Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano (Texas) has turned down the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in the wake of several medical malpractice lawsuits alleging that a former Baylor neurosurgeon operated while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It's the first time an organization has ever declined a Baldrige Award.
The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology notified Baylor Plano last fall that it would receive the Baldrige Award during an April 2014 ceremony. But late last month, Baylor Plano released a statement saying that “while it is extremely proud of this honor, the hospital's leadership is making the difficult decision at this time to withdraw from the process.”
“Right now, Baylor Plano is working to address allegations being made against it by plaintiffs' attorneys in lawsuits and in the media,” hospital officials said in the statement. “So at this time, out of respect for the Baldrige Award and to not give any misleading allegations an elevated public platform, Baylor Plano is announcing this decision.”
Baylor's decision to turn down the award came a little more than a week after a former patient filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and its health system, alleging that she was injured during a 2012 surgery at Baylor Plano performed by Dr. Christopher Duntsch. According to the suit, during treatment, “concerns were raised by the operating room team that Duntsch seemed to be 'distracted and disoriented.'” The suit contends the surgeon's condition may have been due to his being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Concerns about Duntsch have led to allegations in other suits against the surgeon involving patients who allegedly were injured or who died under his care during a nine-month period that began in July 2011. In March 2012, Baylor Plano asked for Duntsch's resignation. Last December, the Texas Medical Board revoked his medical license, citing six cases in which he allegedly violated standards of care.
Follow Rachel Landen on Twitter: @MHrlanden