UF parts ways with surgeon hired from troubled Kentucky program
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013 at 1:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 18, 2013 at 3:39 p.m.
The University of Florida has rescinded its offer to hire Dr. Mark Plunkett, a cardiothoracic surgeon whose surgery program at the University of Kentucky was shut down for reasons that have not been publicly disclosed.
"We have confidence in Dr. Plunkett's capabilities as a surgeon, and this decision is in no way a reflection of concerns about his surgical skills and abilities as a physician. However, at this time, we feel that it is in the best interests of UF that we part ways," UF said in a prepared statement.
Plunkett's appointment had been scheduled to begin Sept. 1.
In fall 2012, UK suspended its cardiothoracic program, which Plunkett had led. Dr. Michael Karpf, the vice president of health affairs at UK, said a suspension and review of the program were undertaken to improve the surgery department.
He also told CNN in the summer that the decision was made because the department's mortality rates were not what he wanted them to be.
The hospital refused to release those mortality rates, however, after journalists' and the public's demands that they do so.
CNN reported that at least two patients who Plunkett had operated on died last year, and two others had postoperative complications.
UF officials said they were aware of the suspension and review of the department when they hired Plunkett but consulted many surgeons in Kentucky and elsewhere, all of whom UF said gave Plunkett great reviews as a surgeon.
"There was a team of people involved in recruiting Dr. Plunkett. We are very aware of the situation in Kentucky. We are very comfortable with Dr. Plunkett about his competence as a surgeon," Tim Goldfarb, CEO of Shands HealthCare, told The Sun in July.
Plunkett was hired to flesh out the three-surgeon cardiothoracic surgeon team at UF, which performs about 250 pediatric procedures annually.
UF officials on Friday declined to comment further about their decision to end Plunkett's contract.
UK is paying Plunkett $1 million as part of a settlement reached this week, according to the Lexington Herald Leader newspaper.
The newspaper reported that UK officials said the money would come out of clinical revenues and not from state or general fund money. Plunkett also has agreed not to speak to media as part of the settlement.
Contact Kristine Crane at 338-3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.