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AAOS Now

Published 3/1/2018

AAOS Board Considers Grievances filed under the Professional Compliance Program

At its meeting on Dec. 9, 2017, the AAOS Board of Directors considered two grievances filed under the AAOS Professional Compliance Program. The following actions were taken:

Bradley W. Bruner, MD
Wichita, Kan.
AAOS Fellow Censured
In December 2016, a grievance alleging violations of the Standards of Professionalism on Orthopaedic Expert Opinion and Testimony was filed against Bradley W. Bruner, MD.

The grievance arose from statements made by Dr. Bruner in an opinion letter to an attorney on a case involving a partial meniscectomy. Both parties attended the hearing before the Committee on Professionalism (COP).

After thorough consideration and deliberation, the COP Grievance Hearing Panel found that Dr. Bruner violated Mandatory Standard No. 2 noting that his expert opinions regarding the "aggressive nature" of the procedure being "outside the envelope of treatment" were not fair and impartial. The Panel also found that Dr. Bruner violated Mandatory Standard No. 4 as his opinions on the amount or degree of the meniscectomy removal were not supported by the submitted records and he condemned performance that the Panel believed was within generally accepted practice standards. The COP Grievance Hearing Panel did not find violations of Mandatory Standards Nos. 1, 3, 5, 6 and 12 as had been alleged.

The AAOS Board of Directors upheld the findings of the COP Grievance Hearing Panel and voted to censure Dr. Bruner for unprofessional conduct in the performance of expert witness testimony.

John S. Toohey, MD
San Antonio, Texas
AAOS Fellow Censured
In March 2016, a grievance alleging violations of the Standards of Professionalism on Orthopaedic Expert Opinion and Testimony was filed against John S. Toohey, MD.

The grievance arose from statements made by Dr. Toohey in his initial and second expert reports and deposition testimony as an expert in a medical liability lawsuit. The underlying matter involved an elderly patient who underwent spinal fusion and cage instrumentation. Both parties attended the hearing before the COP and the appeal hearing before the Judiciary Committee.

After thorough consideration and deliberations, the COP Grievance Hearing Panel and the Judiciary Committee found that Dr. Toohey was in violation of Mandatory Standards Nos. 1, 2, and 4. In both Panels' opinions, Dr. Toohey's second expert report contained absolute and unconditional language about the position of the pedicle screw as the primary deviation from the standard of care. He made strong statements that the standard of care "mandated" the placement within the pedicle and that "no exception to this standard can be justified." These statements were found to be in contradiction to his subsequent deposition testimony in which he acknowledged that screws can be placed outside the pedicle without the surgeon being negligent. The respective Panels also believed that such absolute statements on the position of the screw, as well as other testimony concerning the interpretation of leg pain, were not fair and impartial under the circumstances of this case and condemned performance that was within acceptable practice standards. The COP Hearing Panel and the Judiciary Committee did not find violations of Mandatory Standards Nos. 3 and 6 as had been alleged.

The AAOS Board of Directors upheld the findings of the Judiciary Committee and voted to censure Dr. Toohey due to unprofessional conduct in the performance of expert witness testimony.

For more information on the AAOS Professional Compliance Program, visit www.aaos.org/profcomp.