Speaking Out On Medtronic Ties Got Doc Fired, Lawsuit Claims

Dr. David Gossman, who had worked at the Lahey Clinic Hospital since 1987, alleges he was terminated after speaking out about the financial relationship between Lahey Clinic and <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/defective_medical_devices">Medtronic Inc., reports Courthouse News.

In a lawsuit, Dr. Gossman alleges that the device maker proposed that Lahey Clinic have “access to the CoreValve, a new heart valve that will be in clinical trials in the U.S. soon, predicated on the purchase and increased utilization of other products made by Medtronic” quoted Courthouse News. According to Dr. Gossman, the offer violates “ethical guidelines,” said Courthouse News, and was made this summer to Dr. Thomas Piemonte—director of Interventional Cardiology and the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Lahey Clinic. Dr. Gossman said Dr. Piemonte “has significant financial interest in Medtronic,” reported Courthouse News.

Dr. Gossman claimed Dr. Piemonte receives a “substantial yearly income” and is a member of the Medtronic Speakers Bureau, according to Courthouse News. Also, alleged Dr. Gossman, Dr. Piemonte’s wife worked at Medtronic for a period of time he described as a “lengthy employment” and owns stock with Medtronic. The Medtronic Speakers Bureau is, explained Courthouse News, a program that involves physicians explaining Medtronic’s products to other doctors via prepared materials and in a way in which to drive business to the firm.

According to Dr. Gossman, Dr. Piemonte and Dr. Richard Nesto, the hospital’s chairman of Cardiology, compelled physician staff to boost Medtronic product use, said Courthouse News, adding that Dr. Gossman also said the doctors pressured another physician, telling her that her limited use of Medtronic heart stents was negatively impacting hospital access to emerging technologies.

When Dr. Gossman spoke out, he claimed he was met with retaliation, such as Piemonte and Nesto relieving him as assistant director of the Cardiac Cauterization Lab, said Courthouse News. Dr. Gossman was fired a few days after he attending a lecture concerning the board responsible for the Clinic’s medical research conduct. Gossman said he asked, hypothetically: “If a medical device company approaches a hospital offering access to a new investigational device, but predicates access to the device on increased utilization of other products sold by the company, what would be the position of the IRB regarding this arrangement?”

The two sought negative feedback on him, spoke to Human Resources about having him terminated, banned colleagues from speaking to him and using Lahey letterhead to write letters of recommendation for him, and dispatched a private investigator to observe him at his home, said Courthouse News, citing Dr. Gossman. Dr. Gossman is seeking damages for defamation and Whistleblower Act violations.

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