On Tuesday, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel announced Dr. Robert Cameron, a thoracic surgeon who had recently been separated from the Veteran Affairs medical center in Los
Angeles, has temporarily gotten his job back after becoming a whistleblower.
In a press release, the OSC said Dr. Cameron had “faced resentment by some of his colleagues for blowing the whistle on what he saw as risky staffing decisions for patients undergoing thoracic surgeries”:
On June 22, 2018, the Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (GLA) issued its decision to separate Dr. Cameron, effective July 7, 2018. Dr. Cameron involuntarily retired one day shy of his separation date, an alternate option suggested by his supervisor, who had proposed Dr. Cameron’s separation. These events came on the heels of Dr. Cameron’s protected whistleblowing about GLA’s risky practice of staffing inexperienced general anesthesiologists on thoracic surgeries. Dr. Cameron also disclosed near-deaths that occurred during two separate thoracic surgeries that were staffed at random with whichever anesthesiologists happened to be available. He reasonably believed that those near-fatal complications would not have occurred if anesthesiologists who specialized in thoracic surgery had been present.
“In addition to the 45-day stay, MSPB also granted a formal order returning Dr. Cameron to his position to alleviate any economic and personal hardships while OSC continues its investigation,” their release added.
Stars and Stripes reports Dr. Cameron had notified his supervisor and the hospital’s chief of anesthesiology of life-threatening complications during two surgeries that he believed was caused by the inexperienced anesthesiologists. In his email, Dr. Cameron wrote he could not “look our veterans in the eye and tell them that they will be well cared for.”
After notifying his superiors again in May, they told him in June his services were “no longer required” and said he had to leave July 7, which he did the day before. This was despite having
“regularly received outstanding performance ratings,” according to the OSC.