The University of California at Irvine placed the chief executive officer of its medical center on paid administrative leave after the hospital shut down its scandal-stricken liver-transplant program. CEO Ralph Cygan, a physician, will remain off the job while a committee of experts explores why the program turned down scores of donated organs as patients on the waiting list were dying. In a written statement, Chancellor Michael Drake said suspension was "not a presumption of fault" but would help ensure a thorough, independent review. The committee is expected to complete its report within 90 days. The hospital's chief operating officer, Maureen Zehnter, will serve as acting director. The CMS stripped the transplant program of its certification after an investigation revealed inadequate staffing, poor survival rates and waiting list mismanagement over the past three years. According to the CMS, the program had a one-year survival rate of 68% to 70%, compared with the federal requirement of 77%, and performed far fewer than the required 12 transplants annually. Thirty-two patients in the program died while waiting for transplants during the past two years. -- by Laura B. Benko
Hospital CEO on leave after transplant scandal
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