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Goodbye Paul Levy

January 7, 2011

Paul Levy, the CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and an advocate for reducing medical errors, is leaving his post.

He included his resignation letter to the hospital’s board on his blog Running a hospital.  Here’s an excerpt-

While I remain strongly committed to the fight for patient quality and safety, worker-led process improvement, and transparency, our organization needs a fresh perspective to reach new heights in these arenas. Likewise, for me personally, while it has been nine great years working with outstanding people, that is longer than I have spent in any one job, and I need some new challenges.

So, last night, I informed the Chair of our Board that I will be stepping down as CEO. We will work out an appropriate transition period, and things will continue to run smoothly here. I leave confident that the Board will find many able candidates to succeed me.

Levy says the decision came gradually, perhaps motivated by his 60th birthday, and he just needs a change. But is that really the reason he’s leaving?

Levy came under fire last May for an inappropriate relationship with an employee.  The hospital board fined Levy $50,000 for his behavior, and asked MA’s Attorney General’s Office to review its actions.  Levy never described the female employee as anything more than a close friend, but he did apologize for his lapse in judgment on his blog.

Recently, Beth Israel Deaconess has received some negative publicity for a rash of botched spine surgeries at the hospital. I saw no mention of the error’s on Levy’s blog.

This struck me as strange because Levy is famous for his openness about medical errors at the hospital.  He offered a detailed post about a wrong site surgery at the hospital, and tried to use the experience as an example for quality improvements at the hospital.

Is it possible that Levy’s relationship with the hospital employee and or this increase in medical errors had something to do with his departure?  Will we soon learn more about the nature of that relationship ?  Or is he really just ready for a change?  What do you think?

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