Dr. Federico Castro-Moure, the top neurosurgeon at Highland Hospital in Oakland, California, was arrested Monday after he angrily demanded to be allowed to operate immediately on a patient whose spine had been fractured. Two other doctors had already determined that the injury was not critical, but Castro-Moure not only insisted that the man needed immediate surgery but also did not want to wait for sterile equipment to arrive, so they could get started right away. The staffers apparently questioned whether the non-sterile-equipment approach was the best way to proceed when cutting open someone’s back.
The more somebody insists on doing something potentially dangerous right away, the more cautious you should be, is my general rule. This reminds me of the "Simpsons" episode in which Homer wants to buy a gun right away. Told there is a waiting period, he wails, "Ohhhh! . . . waiting period? But I’m mad now!"
Anyway, because Castro-Moure wanted to operate now, because he was so belligerent, and because two nurses said they smelled alcohol on his breath, police were called. It took three deputies to subdue him. Two breath tests were inconclusive (apparently because he failed to cooperate) but he was arrested anyway and charged with "interfering with deputies." He’s on leave during the investigation.
A hospital spokesperson said that there was no policy banning alcohol consumption by doctors before surgery, but that they would be barred from working if they were "impaired in any way." That’s reassuring. He did say that it was hospital policy to report anyone with alcohol on their breath. "We will not tolerate unprofessional conduct that could endanger our patients," he said. "That is unacceptable." Also reassuring. Highland Hospital’s new slogan — "Highland: The Hospital That Finds Dangerous Unprofessional Conduct Unacceptable."