Anesthesiology Head Quits

Peter Breen, head of the Anesthesiology Department of UC Irvine’s Medical Center in Orange, announced his retirement on Friday, Sept. 15, after an intense faculty meeting with the Anesthesiology Department held on Sept. 7.
Breen, along with his former clinical vice chairwoman, Anne Wong, is under investigation by the state medical board.
Breen’s decision to step down at the end of his five-year term as chairman in summer of 2007 was made shortly after what the Los Angeles Times described as a ‘heated Anesthesiology Department meeting’ that questioned Breen’s leadership.
The article noted that Breen even refused to leave the room when two physicians asked him to leave so that they could talk about him.
In a phone interview, Breen said that he is ‘not at liberty to talk about anything that happened during the meeting’ or discuss who was present.
‘Any faculty meetings are confidential under the California Evidence Code 1157, which protects all procedures in the department so we can discuss things with the quality of care, which need to be kept confidential,’ Breen said.
The Los Angeles Times explored the reasons behind the California Medical Board’s investigation, saying, ‘The inquiry is probably focused on allegations made in a wrongful-termination lawsuit filed last year by Dr. Glenn Provost, a former UCI anesthesiology professor.’
The lawsuit, according to the article, involved issues revolving around the nurses’ improper pre-operational procedures with patients and charts (i.e. forging signatures), and Breen was outraged that his physicians were being unfairly accused of such acts.
‘We set our efforts on patient care and patient safety and safety record and quality care of patients,’ Breen said. ‘We practice in tertiary and quaternary care. … We had a number of reviews of patient safety and passed them. There was an investigation by Centers for MediCal and MedicAid Services, the federal Medicare agency … and I’m very pleased that there was no basis to the complaints. The investigator was pleased with the quality of care of the people. It’s egregious how a current faculty member said all this to vent their frustrations.’
Breen pointed to the positive achievements in the program, which he said were glossed over by the Los Angeles Times.
For example, the American College of Graduate Medical Education, a group that oversees all the residency programs in medical centers around the country, made significant advances this year in terms of the medical center’s didactic training program.
Pain Management recruited two academic professors in medicine, one who will start in December 2006 and the other, a director for clinical pain management, who will enhance and improve the clinical operations that include the availability of supplies in operating rooms, among other responsibilities.
The administrative department also has a new clinical vice chair, program director, clinical director, vice chair of research and also a chief administrative officer, who has been working with Breen for a year.
‘We want to improve all of the programs that relate to clinical research and education, as well as all these leadership changes and improvements,’ Breen said.