Three longtime physicians have sued Yale University, claiming Yale's School of Medicine implemented policies that endangered the lives of patients and then punished the doctors when they complained.
"We chose to speak out about wrongs that are going on all around us," Morton Burrell, M.D., one of the lawsuit's three plaintiffs, says. "They put their foot on our throats."
The university denies the claims. The suit, filed in January, focuses on how doctors in the school's diagnostic radiology department have been treating patients at 735-bed Yale-New Haven Medical Center, the school's teaching hospital.
The plaintiffs contend that the chairman of Yale's radiology department, Bruce McClennan, M.D., directed doctors to sign a backlog of radiology studies, some as old as two years, on patients whom the doctors had never treated.
Shortly after that, according to the suit, McClennan began ordering residents to examine X-rays of emergency-room patients, which the suit contends is unethical and a violation of Medicare laws.
The doctors allege their salaries were reduced when they complained and that the department chairman disrupted their sabbaticals and disparaged them to executives at other medical schools.
The university has yet to file an answer to the suit, but in a memorandum to the doctors dated Feb. 1, the university's vice president and general counsel, Dorothy Robinson, dismissed many of the claims.