A Seattle surgeon has surrendered his medical license amid an investigation by the Medical Quality Assurance Commission that alleges he gave questionable testimony regarding proposed legislation.
Administrative charges were filed against Dr. David Heimbach, a former chief of Harborview Medical Center’s burn unit, this past March. The charges allege Heimbach failed to report he was a paid consultant for manufacturers of flame retardants and presented himself as an objective burn expert.
The surgeon testified in opposition of bills in Washington, Alaska, and California that would have restricted or banned the use of chemical flame retardants.
Heimbach was also accused of passing along false stories about burn patients and using a photo of a badly burned infant without first receiving permission from the victim’s family.
Heimbach’s legal troubles began in 2012 when the Chicago Tribune ran stories that brought his association with the Citizens for Fire Safety Institute to light. According to a March article in the Seattle Times, the group was created by three chemical manufacturers to combat efforts to limit the utilization of certain flame retardants. The surgeon testified against bills that would have restricted or banned use of the chemicals in three states, and he failed to disclose he was paid approximately $240,000 by Citizens for Fire Safety. Furthermore, he failed to report the payments (as required by University of Washington ethics rules).
Earlier this month, Heimbach waived his right to a disciplinary hearing.