UCLA pays surgeon $10 million in whistleblower retaliation case

The University of California has agreed to pay $10 million to its former Chairman of Orthopedic surgery Department, who asserted that the renowned medical school let doctors accept industry payments which may have compromised patient care.

Robert Pedowitz, 54 a surgeon recruited to UCLA in 2009 testified in a court case that his colleagues had financial ties to medical device manufacturers or other companies that could influence their care of patients or taint medical research.

One of the doctors received $250,000 in consulting fees from device maker Medtronic. Dr. Pedowits raised his concerns about the financial dealings in writing to University officials. The University said that the conduct by its faculty is lawful.

Just before Dr. Pedowitz joined UCLA in 2009, the university was facing criticism over the failure of a spine surgeon to report $460,000 in payments he got from Medtronic and other companies while researching their products use in patients. Several patients are now suing the doctor and UCLA for negligence and fraud in connection with surgeries involving Medtronic’s Infuse bone graft.

Dr. Pedowtz settle his case just after closing arguments to a jury in his civil wrongful termination trial. He said that he was pressured to step down as chairman of the orthopedics and suffered other retaliation by being denied patient referrals.