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Children's Hospital stands behind CEO, doctor named in lawsuit

(WOWT)
Published: Jan. 4, 2019 at 11:56 AM CST
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Children's Hospital & Medical Center backed its chief administrator and one of its surgeons named in a lawsuit filed Friday by two former colleagues.

The lawsuit was filed today in Douglas County court against the hospital; its president and CEO, Dr. Richard G. Azizkhan; and Conley. In the complaint, Dr. Mark Puccioni, a pediatric neurosurgeon, and plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Miller expressed concerns about Conley's performance and alleged that the hospital, its CEO, and Conley himself disparaged their reputations.

With more than a decade of medical experience between them, the plaintiffs filed the complaint after a tragedy in the operating room, according to their attorney, Tom White.

"Dr. Miller and Dr. Puccioni complained of absolute malpractice that caused the unnecessary death of a child," White said. "Children's had a monetary interest in protecting that physician."

White said both doctors expressed concerns to administrators at Children's Hospital, including the CEO, about the skills and competency of the surgeon who operated on the 7-month-old — and were retaliated against.

"Two days later, Dr. Miller and Dr. Puccioni are suspended," he said. "They certainly went to the administration, and of course you have to understand Dr. Puccioni had already raised concerns before this child's death."

Friday's lawsuit comes after reports that

. Those departures prompted the Nebraska Medical Association to send a letter to the hospital saying, in part, that they were "saddened to hear of children being transferred to outside institutions for additional care because of complications and inadequate specialist physician coverage at Children's Hospital."

Children's Hospital responds

The hospital stood by Azizkhan and Conley on Friday, issuing the following statement:

The hospital's statement echoed the sentiments of an internal memo, issued Thursday on behalf of Azizkhan and obtained by 6 On Your Side on Friday morning, which said media reports regarding the exiting surgeons were incomplete and that the hospital is "limited in what we can say regarding personnel matters."

Azizkhan's full post reads:

He also shared the statement he made Thursday to 6 On Your Side in the post to hospital employees.

A statement made Friday by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services followed suit:

On social media

The 10 surgeons' departure from Children's has left many patient families with concerns about the current and future care of their children. Dr. Puccioni tweeted words of support Friday afternoon:

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