A Fresno, California cardiac perfusionist is suing Community Regional Medical Center and a well-known cardiac surgeon for wrongful termination and retaliation after being identified as a whistleblower. Community Regional Medical Center was fined $75,000 in April of 2012 after James Robillard reported that the cardiac surgeon named in the suit left the operating room before closing his patient’s chest. An inexperienced assistant was left to complete the surgical procedure, but did not perform it properly. As a result, the patient’s heart stopped, causing him to bleed and be deprived of oxygen. He was revived and put on life support but remains in a vegetative state in a nursing home.
The patient’s family filed a medical malpractice suit against the hospital and surgeon in December of 2013. When the case went to trial, all pertinent records were subpoenaed, including the whistleblower file. James Robillard was identified as the person originally reporting the incident. He was also identified by name in two news reports on the case, causing him loss of wages because other medical facilities were reluctant to hire him.
Robillard is seeking $25,000 in punitive damages, and another $10,000 in fines. He claims that being identified as the whistleblower in this case has had such an effect on his professional career that he had to relocate to Monterey, California in order to find work. Community Regional Medical Center and the cardiac surgeon named in the suit contend that the claims are absurd and report that Robillard was fired for violating hospital policy on patient confidentiality. They claim Robillard accessed medical records of patients without authorization, and in doing so, caused a breach in the hospital’s patient confidentiality policies. Patients were informed of this breach and Robillard was fired.
Community Regional Medical Center and the cardiac surgeon deny all of the allegations brought against them. The surgeon named in the case filed a $25 million defamation lawsuit against Robillard, but has since had the case dismissed. The surgeon has the right to refile in the future.
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