Surgeon says Parkland ER is dangerously understaffed



Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:51 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 11:39 AM

Brett Shipp reports
October 2, 2008

DALLAS - A former trauma surgeon at Parkland Hospital says more people will needlessly die in the emergency room unless staffing is improved.

The surgeon, who was recently removed from the trauma call list at Parkland, wants a judge to reinstate him in hope of preventing more deaths, such as that of Mike Herrera, two weeks ago.

Dr. Larry Gentilello was once considered one of the top trauma surgeons in the city until, he says, he blew the whistle on alleged billing fraud by other surgeons at Parkland Hospital.

Two months ago, he was abruptly removed from the on-call trauma list.

Now he's in a courtroom fighting to get his job back.

Among Gentilello's courthouse claims, that staffing at Parkland's trauma center is inadequate.

Claims that now have the attention of the Herrera family which eagerly awaits the hearing.

Dr. Larry Gentilello

The family is still grieving the death of Michael Herrera who died of heart failure while waiting nearly 19 hours to receive emergency care.

They came to the courthouse to meet with Dr. Gentilello who says the Parkland trauma center is dangerously understaffed and under supervised.

Parkland officials deny the public faces any danger due to staffing.

In fact, according to it's General Counsel, Dr. Gentilello was removed from trauma call because he was missing in action on July 11th, 12th of this year.

"But for the act of others at Parkland on those nights, the safety of patients would have been placed in severe jeopardy," the hospital said in a statement.

Gentilello says he was not missing, he was busy operating on other patients.

Meanwhile, UT Southwestern denies Gentilello's allegations of fraud.

But for a family still mourning a death, a surgeon's warning gives their concerns new life.