Home >  News >  July, 2014

Doc Threatens Physician's Assistant During Open Heart Surgery: "I'm Going to Put You Through the Wall"

She's now on workers' comp with post-traumatic stress disorder and collecting $2,400 per week.

Published: July 14, 2014

Harry J. DePan, MDHot-tempered, disruptive surgeons don't just threaten staff morale. They can become expensive liabilities, as a hospital in New York can testify.

Ellis Hospital, in Schenectady, is on the hook for a large and ongoing workers' comp bill as a result of a violent threat allegedly made by one of its former surgeons to a physician's assistant during an open heart procedure in 2009.

"If that happens again, I'm going to put you through the wall. I mean it," cardiothoracic surgeon Harry J. DePan, MD, said to Caterina Lucke, PA, according to N.Y. Workers' Compensation Board documents. Ms. Lucke was suctioning blood out of the pericardium at the time, and Dr. DePan allegedly lost his cool when tissue got caught in the suctioning device.

Ms. Lucke testified that the threat left her petrified, fearing for the patient's life. She said she thought Dr. DePan was out of control and that he meant what he'd said. In a consultation with a psychologist 12 days later, she was diagnosed with an "adjustment reaction." More than 2 years later, in early 2012, she was taken out of work by the psychologist, who revised his diagnosis to include post-traumatic stress disorder.

The hospital has twice sought to have Ms. Lucke's workers' comp award overturned, arguing, among other things, that she was familiar with Dr. DePan's "difficult" personality and that the presence of others in the OR undermined the severity of the threat.

But last week an appeals court again sided with Ms. Lucke, citing "uncontroverted psychiatric diagnoses" of post-traumatic stress and adjustment disorder "caused by the incident." Her average weekly wage had been set by the state board at $2,415.01.

Calls for comment by Outpatient Surgery to Ellis Hospital and to Dr. DePan, who's now at Albany Medical Center, were not returned.

Jim Burger


Also in the News...

Morcellator Opponent Amy Reed, MD, Succumbs to Cancer
Judge Awards $88K to Surgeon "Forced Out" for Double-Booking Complaints
Doctor, 2 Nurses Jailed Without Bail After Child Sex Videos Emerge
Inspiration of Informed Consent Dead at 78
Watch: Surgeon and Nurse Duke it Out Inside a Hospital in China
Male Nurse Charged With Sexual Assault at Atlanta Endo Center
Gastric Bypass May Put Patients at Risk of Alcohol Problems

New to Outpatient Surgery Magazine?
Sign-up to continue reading this article.
Register Now
Have an account? Please log in:
Email Address:
  Remember my login on this computer

advertiser banner

Other Articles That May Interest You

Senate Finance Committee Takes Aim at Concurrent and Overlapping Surgeries

The first would be prohibited, the second more tightly regulated.

Legal Update: Mini Surgical Construction Boom Ahead?

Physician-owned hospitals might soon be able to add more beds.

CRNA Faces 10 Years in Prison for Allegedly Diverting Fentanyl

He's accused of repeatedly signing out extra, claiming it was for patients.