Why does UCLA allow a doctor who was caught embezzelling money from his own transplant program (and his friends and co-workers) to keep working and to keep making decisons about who gets a transplant?
Late in 2003, senior administrators at the UCLA medical school learned that professor Alan Wilkinson had been detected embezzling funds from the transplant program (kidney-pancreas) which he helps to supervise. Dr. Wilkinson was attempting to divert funds to his partner, Ellen Liao, whom he had appointed to run the research component of the transplant program.
Dr. Wilkinson's criminal activity was detected after the research nurses supervised by Ellen Liao resigned in mass. THe nurses stated that Ms. Liao was ordering them to forge physician signatures on research forms - a criminal felony under Federal Law.
The nurses who resigned communicated their concerns directly to the Dean's office. They had lost confidence (for obvious reasons) in Dr. Wilkinson's capacity to make ethical decisons regarding his own partner's criminal activity. They had also lost confidence that the School of Medicine's Transplant Office (which manages all tranplant programs at UCLA) would act ethically.
Too bad the Dean and Provost of the School of Medicine did not honor the nurses' trust. Ellen Liao, who directed the forgeries, resigned. Ms' Liao's partner Dr. Wilkinson - even after he was caught stealing from his colleagues on ms. Liao's behalf - is still there. TO this day, Dr. Wilkinson is still involved in every decison about who gets a kidney transplant at UCLA.
Would you trust a doctor who steals from his own colleagues to make ethical decisons about who should live and who ahould die? What if he finds he can make a few bucks on the side by selling a transplant authorization? And if he did - would UCLA's medical adminaistrators care?