A whistleblower lawsuit filed by a doctor at University of Kansas Hospital on Friday accuses the chair of the hospital’s pathology department of mistakenly diagnosing a patient with cancer and covering up the mistake for months after the patient had an essential organ removed.
Lowell Tilzer, a pathologist at KU Hospital, filed the lawsuit in Wyandotte County District Court. In the suit, Tilzer says the hospital retaliated against him after he tried to bring the department chair’s mistake to light.
The suit does not name the patient but says the patient had an “essential body organ” removed after being falsely diagnosed with cancer. The patient may still not know of the mistake, according to the suit.
When asked about the suit, a spokesman for KU Hospital provided a written statement:
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“We are not in a position to provide detailed feedback at this time. However, just from a brief review of the allegations made, there is little to nothing in the petition that we believe to be grounded in truth.
“The patient to whom Dr. Tilzer’s petition references was fully informed of the diagnosis and treatment plan after surgery and prior to leaving the hospital and is pleased with the care and clinical outcome.”
The patient was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 after the chair of the hospital’s pathology department reviewed a tissue sample, according to court documents. The organ was removed and, on examination, proved not to be cancerous.
The lawsuit says the chair of the pathology department added reports to the patient’s files to conceal the mistake and instructed others to alter medical records about the misdiagnosis. When Tilzer tried to bring the mistake to the attention of hospital administrators, the suit says, the hospital failed to investigate it.
After Tilzer filed a report with an outside auditing agency, the suit says, the hospital threatened his job.
The suit does not name the chair of the pathology department allegedly involved in the incident, but the chair of the department is Meenakshi Singh.
Tilzer could not be reached Friday afternoon, but he spoke with a reporter at the KCUR public radio station.
The suit doesn’t ask for any specific monetary damages, apart from reimbursing Tilzer’s legal fees, but asks the court to stop the hospital from taking action against him because of his complaint.