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California Today: Medical Experts Blast USC's Silence Over Gynecologist Scandal


California Today

California Today: Medical Experts Blast U.S.C.’s Silence Over Gynecologist Scandal

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The University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles. In 2016, the university conducted an internal investigation, which concluded that a doctor’s pelvic exams may have been inappropriate.CreditDavid McNew/Getty Images

May 17, 2018

Good morning.

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For decades, allegations of misconduct dogged the primary gynecologist in the student health center at the University of Southern California. There were reports that he inappropriately touched students during pelvic exams and made sexual comments about their bodies.

Yet even after university officials suspended the doctor, George Tyndall, in 2016 and forced him to step down a year later, they did not report the accusations to the California Medical Board. When their internal investigation was complete, officials said that the findings were a personnel matter and that there was no legal obligation to notify the state oversight board, which investigates doctors accused of misconduct.

Several medical experts and ethicists said Wednesday that, regardless of the law, the university failed to meet its ethical obligation.

Under state law, hospitals and clinics are required to notify the medical board if they suspend or terminate physicians. The board receives nearly 10,000 complaints each year and last year opened more than 1,400 investigations. If it finds serious misconduct, it can revoke a license to practice.

“If we receive a complaint from the member of the public or clinic or another doctor, we look into it,” said Carlos Villatoro, a spokesman for the board. “But the complaint has to come to us in the first place.”

Mr. Villatoro said he could not comment on the U.S.C. case, but added that “any allegation that an entity is not reporting as required by law will be investigated.”

Jonathan Moreno, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a medical ethics expert, said the decision not to report Dr. Tyndall “makes the medical board sort of toothless.”

Dr. Moreno said that “it sounds like people were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt more than ought to have with him.”

Isaac Schiff, the former chief of obstetrics-gynecology at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that if a physician’s behavior led to a suspension or removal, “you have an obligation that the medical board knows about it.”

“You should not be turning an eye or making private deals,” he said. “When institutions just sort of say, ‘Go away quietly and we won’t report you,’ I don’t think that’s correct morally.”

“If a university doesn’t set the standard,” he added, “who does?”

Were you a patient of Dr. Tyndall’s at U.S.C.? How do you think university officials should have handled the complaints? We want to hear from you. Please reach out to jennifer.medina@nytimes.com.

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California Online

(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on news sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)

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President Trump at the California Sanctuary State Roundtable in the Cabinet Room on Wednesday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

• “These aren’t people, these are animals.” President Trump lashed out at undocumented immigrants during a White House meeting with state and local leaders on California’s so-called sanctuary laws. [The New York Times]

F.B.I. investigators do not believe the deadly explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday was an accident. The woman who was killed was reported to be Ildiko Krajnyak, 48, the owner of the spa where the blast occurred. [A.P.]

Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, warned fellow House Republicans that forcing votes on immigration could jeopardize the party’s House majority and benefit the minority leader, Nancy Pelosi. “We can debate internally,” he said, “but don’t let someone else like Nancy decide our future.” [Politico]

• Charter schools are front and center in California’s race for governor, with wealthy out-of-staters pouring millions into Antonio Villaraigosa’s campaign, and the state teachers union backing Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. The primary is June 5. [CALmatters]

A federal survey shows that 94 percent of U.S. teachers spend their own money on school supplies. Those who do spent an average of $479 during the school year. [The New York Times]

Our Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof writes about a 1983 murder in Chino Hills that led to the conviction of Kevin Cooper. A single test could free this man from death row, but California won’t allow it. [The New York Times]

NL Industries, a Dallas-based lead paint manufacturer, will pay more than $60 million to remove the toxic material from homes across California. The settlement ended 18 years of litigation. [A.P.]

• And Dropbox, the online file-sharing firm, will pay $1.6 million in penalties and $450,000 in restitution after four California counties sued, charging that the company’s auto-renewal policy violated state law. [Bay Area News Group]

A judge effectively called a cease-fire in the heated battled between CBS and the Redstone family that controls the network. [The New York Times]

Our columnist says that no matter who wins in the fight over the proposed reunion of CBS and Viacom, the media landscape will be transformed. [The New York Times]

The San Francisco metro area, including San Francisco, Alameda, Marin, Contra Costa and San Mateo counties, now has 74 billionaires, the third most of any region in the world, a new survey shows. (New York has the most, Hong Kong is second.) [SFGate]

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Check out the house Kevin Durant rented to host N.B.A. suitors in 2016 before he went to Golden State. Mr. Durant paid $100,000 for the 10-day rental. [The New York Times]

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And Finally …

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The hospice at the California Medical Facility is one of the nation’s first.CreditKaty Grannan for The New York Times

This week’s Times Magazine takes you inside the hospice at the California Medical Facility, a medium-security prison in Vacaville. The prison is home to 2,400 men — some young and healthy, others disabled and sick, and then those in the hospice, who are dying.

The hospice is one of the nation’s first, and the only licensed hospice unit inside a California prison. Built in 1993, it was originally populated with young men dying of complications from AIDS.

Today, the 17-bed unit is filled with a different demographic: Graying men with everything from end-stage cancer to Alzheimer’s shuffle around with walkers, sit in wheelchairs watching television or lie curled up under heavy blankets.

This is where the Pastoral Care Service Workers, a cohort of about two dozen men, do their work. Most of them are convicted murderers who have been granted an unusual role: providing dignified deaths to their fellow inmates.

Read the full article here.

California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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