05/28/2024

Some Crim

Track the Untold Stories

Family members of loved ones on a liver transplant waiting list who died at Memorial Hermann — Texas Medical Center in Houston are seeking answers. Among them was Jerry Whittington, inset. (Hospital exterior screenshot from KTRK/YouTube; Victim's photo from his obituary)

‘You’re coming off the list’: Doctor’s alleged ‘data manipulation’ led to deaths of people waiting for organ transplants, lawyer says

Family members of loved ones on a liver transplant waiting list who died at Memorial Hermann — Texas Medical Center in Houston are seeking answers. Among them was Jerry Whittington, inset. (Hospital exterior screenshot from KTRK/YouTube; Victim’s photo from his obituary)

Lawyers for family members of loved ones who were on a liver transplant waiting list at a Texas hospital and died have filed a legal challenge to preserve evidence after media reports surfaced that a doctor may have manipulated patient data and denied some patients from receiving live-saving organs.

Lawyers for several families filed an application for a temporary restraining order and an injunction against Dr. John S. Bynon at Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center in Houston to preserve data, documents and other evidence that might shed light on what happened. The temporary restraining order seeks to prevent the defendant from modifying, altering, deleting, or destroying any documents and data relevant to a potential claim that could be filed.

Related Coverage:

    “What we find perplexing is how people qualified for the liver, and they’re placed on the list and they’re told they’re going to get a liver. And then at some point in time thereafter, they’re told, ‘You don’t qualify. You’re coming off the list,’” said John Davis, an attorney representing several families whose loved ones died at a news conference this week announcing the legal action. “We want to know what is this data manipulation that’s been reported in the media? I mean, were they manipulating the data to ensure that the people who are getting livers are the healthiest people, ergo, they have better statistics in terms of survival?”

    “We’re here today in the hope of helping these families get answers,” he also said. “The loss of their loved ones was devastating, but then to hear later that their loved one might have been deprived of a liver and a chance to live … I can tell you that the second injury that they’ve suffered … devastating.”

    Eleven other family members of loved ones who were on the liver transplant waiting list and who died have sought counsel from a second firm, the Hastings Law Firm.

    The New York Times reported that the medical center acknowledged that an unnamed doctor in its liver transplant program admitted to changing patient records, in effect denying the transplants. An unnamed official with knowledge of the investigation identified that physician as Bynon, the Times reported. The paper said that he did not confirm that he had admitted to altering records and declined further comment, referring questions to UTHealth Houston.

    In a statement emailed to Law&Crime, UTHealth Houston defended Bynon, saying he is an “exceptionally talented and caring physician, and a pioneer in abdominal organ transplantation.”

    “According to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, Bynon’s survival rates and surgical outcomes are among the best in the nation, even while treating patients with higher-than-average acuity and disease complexity,” the statement continued. “UTHealth Houston is proud of the many contributions Dr. Bynon and his team have made to our university, our academic and clinical transplant programs, and to the field of transplant medicine. Our faculty and staff members, including Dr. Bynon, are assisting with the inquiry into Memorial Hermann’s liver transplant program and are committed to addressing and resolving any findings identified by this process.”

    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched an investigation.

    “HHS is committed to protecting patient safety and equitable access to organ transplant services,” the agency said in a statement emailed to Law&Crime. “Federal investigators have been deployed and are working closely with our state partners. In order to protect that process, CMS does not comment on pending investigations.”

    Joseph Whittington joined attorney Davis at the news conference to talk about his father, Jerry Whittington, 64, who died in 2023 after being put on and taken off the liver transplant waiting list.

    “The main reason I was told is that due to his health declining too much, he wouldn’t be,” Joseph Whittington said. “He wasn’t going to make it if he received it. So he made a turn for the worse right after they told him no in front of him. It really didn’t make any sense for the whole family to say you’ve got to be so sick to get a liver, but then now he’s too sick to get a liver.”

    Sign up for the Law&Crime Daily Newsletter for more breaking news and updates

    The post ‘You’re coming off the list’: Doctor’s alleged ‘data manipulation’ led to deaths of people waiting for organ transplants, lawyer says first appeared on Law & Crime.