The former chairman of UCLA’s orthopedic surgery department will receive $10 million from University of California regents after a settlement was reached Tuesday in a high-profile whistleblower-retaliation case involving Dr. Robert Pedowitz, the medical school, and other parties.
Dr. Pedowitz, who took over UCLA’s orthopedic surgery department in 2009, claims the school allowed doctors to accept industry payments that may have adversely affected patient care.
Three years after he was recruited to come to UCLA, the surgeon sued the school, UC regents, surgeon colleagues, and select university officials. According to an April 22 article in the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Pedowitz alleged “they failed to act on his complaints about widespread conflicts of interest and later retaliated against him for speaking up.”
The article also states UCLA denies Dr. Pedowitz’s claims. The university maintains they found no wrongdoing by faculty and takes issue with the surgeon’s suggestions that patient care was compromised.
The crux of Dr. Pedowitz’s argument is that his former colleagues’ ties to medical device companies had the potential to influence how they approach patient treatments and how they evaluate the results of medical research. He also alleges UCLA made no efforts to address the problem because the university stood to benefit financially from those ties.
The Times article includes a statement released Tuesday by UC regents, which states that they “resolved this lawsuit to end a prolonged conflict and permit UCLA Health Sciences to refocus on its primary missions of teaching, research, patient care and community engagement."