California Doctor Accused of Negligence, Incompetence

November 10, 2008

California regulators have accused the former head of UC Irvine Medical Center’s anesthesiology department of gross negligence and incompetence for allegedly falsifying anesthesiology records and assigning a resident to work in the operating room even though that doctor’s left hand was in a cast.

The California Medical Board alleges that Dr. Peter H. Breen filled out anesthesiology forms in advance, according to the charges filed Oct. 30 by the state attorney general’s office. The board noted one instance where Breen indicated that a patient was “stable” and “comfortable” even before the operation had been performed.

In a separate case, Breen allegedly assigned a resident to operating-room duties even though he couldn’t perform certain tasks because of his cast. That doctor was relieved of those duties after another doctor raised concerns.

Breen, who still practices at the hospital, could be suspended or have his license revoked.

A call to his office was not immediately returned.

The anesthesiology department was placed under state supervision in September after federal inspectors found several instances where doctors had filled out medical records about a surgery before it happened. The lapses occurred under Breen’s watch.

In a letter published in the Los Angeles Times last month, Breen wrote that there were no injuries related to the

“With rare exception, the anesthetic record was accurate,” he wrote.

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