Cape Cod Healthcare accused of ‘unethical practices’ in doctor lawsuit

Ella Castle

EDITOR’S NOTE: A correction was made on Dec. 12, 2022, to a caption of a photograph. HYANNIS — A former cardiologist and medical director at Cape Cod Hospital has filed a lawsuit against Cape Cod Healthcare, alleging he was fired after blowing the whistle on the hospital’s allegedly unethical practices […]

EDITOR’S NOTE: A correction was made on Dec. 12, 2022, to a caption of a photograph.

HYANNIS — A former cardiologist and medical director at Cape Cod Hospital has filed a lawsuit against Cape Cod Healthcare, alleging he was fired after blowing the whistle on the hospital’s allegedly unethical practices that prioritized profit over patients’ care. 

Dr. Richard Zelman, 64, is an interventional cardiologist and surgeon who has been affiliated with Cape Cod Hospital since 1990. He was hired full-time in 2006 and became the medical director of the hospital’s Heart and Vascular Institute in 2018.  

According to a lawsuit filed in Barnstable Superior Court on Tuesday, Zelman claims his employment was terminated in September after blowing the whistle on the hospital’s allegedly unethical practices.

Dr. Richard Zelman, shown her on Oct. 3, 2017, and the cardiac team at Cape Cod Hospital saved a woman's life using an interventional procedure he started doing a couple years ago, called TAVR, transcatheter aortic valve replacement.

The lawsuit states that in 2019, the hospital’s CEO Michael Lauf didn’t allow patients with Medicare or Medicaid insurance to use “Sentinel Devices,” instead prioritizing patients whose insurance reimbursed the hospital at higher rates. Sentinel Devices filter out stroke-causing debris during a transcatheter aortic valve replacement, according to the lawsuit. 

Although Lauf eventually conceded to Zelman’s concerns, the lawsuit says, Zelman faced retaliation for his actions including an investigation into his performance.

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