Dr. Robert Pedowitz, former chairman of the orthopedic surgery department at the University of California, Los Angeles, will receive $10 million to settle his whistleblower lawsuit against the institution for alleged financial conflicts of interest. Dr. Pedowitz joined the department in 2009, and stepped down as chair the following year after complaining about conflicts of interest and financial ties between industry and doctors. In 2011, he resigned and filed a whistleblower-retaliation lawsuit. The suit was settled on Tuesday in the Los Angeles County Superior Court without the institution admitting wrongdoing. Pedowitz named the University of California, Los Angeles, the UC regents, fellow surgeons and senior university officials in the lawsuit.
Pedowitz said he was concerned that relationships between industry and doctors could affect the quality of patient care or medical research. He named one orthopedic surgeon who received $250,000 in consulting fees from Medtronic in 2008. The vice chairman of clinical operations for the orthopedic surgery department was also cited for allegedly receiving money quietly from Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation. He also alleged that his complaints were ignored, and instead of acting on his concerns the institution later retaliated against him. According to AllGov California, doctors conspired against him by circulation incorrect information about his employment history, denying him patient referrals and interfering with other professional activities.
According to the suit, the UCLA overlooked the issue because it would benefit financially if its doctors developed medical products or drugs. “These are serious issues that patients should be worried about,” Pedowitz said to LA Times. “These problems exist in the broader medical system and they are not restricted to UCLA.”
Prior to working in UCLA, Pedowitz was chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery in the South Florida College of Medicine. He was also a professor, chief of sports medicine and director of orthopedic residency at the University of California, San Diego.