When an individual must check into a hospital for a procedure they trust that the hospital staff have their best interests at heart and will do them no harm. It is particularly disturbing when the public learns that their trust has been misplaced, as has happened with one hospital in western New York.
St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center located in Syracuse, New York is under both state and federal investigation for violating that trust. A member of their surgical staff, Dr. Michael Clarke has been accused of both physical and verbally assaulting patients while they were on his operating table under anesthesia. Dr. Clarke allegedly hit his patients on the buttocks while they were asleep, sometimes so hard that it left handprints. He is also accused of shouting verbal insults and sexual remarks while performing his procedures.
The accusations come from hospital staff that was forced to work with the doctor under these stressful conditions. According to the complaint which was received by the state health department, staff had notified those at St. Joseph’s about Dr. Clarke’s improprieties but the complaints were ignored over the course of a year. Once the state became involved in the investigation it did not take long for the federal government to step in. Dr. Clarke is denying the allegations but has thus far refused to comment publically on the matter.
Those who work in the healthcare industry such as nurse anesthetists, doctors, RN’s, physical therapists, surgeons, and even ophthalmologists have the trust of the public when they are employed to perform a procedure. The public expects that these are professionals with high ethics and morals, and it shakes the public’s trust in the healthcare industry when stories like this come to light. Unfortunately this happens more often than we even know about, with millions being paid to those who have suffered at the hands of their caregivers.
It’s horrifying to think of, but many times these allegations are ignored by hospitals because these surgeons bring in thousands of dollars for the procedures they perform. Also, due to the federal investigation now underway St. Joseph’s is in danger of losing federal funding through the Medicaid and Medicare programs, which goes towards paying for many of their patients procedures.
Most hospitals have strict harassment policy guidelines in place, but these will not deter a truly twisted individual. It is up to hospital staff to notify the proper authorities if something improper is happening and if the complaints are ignored, it’s time to advise the state so that they may take action.
For anyone contemplating a surgical procedure, do your research. Find out who your surgeon will be and perform some internet searches; check their references and see if any complaints have been filed against them and for what. The public must be diligent with their own healthcare, since it seems that in some cases we cannot trust hospital officials to perform their due diligence on their own staff.