Hospital grilled surgeon on her sex life after she removed ‘foreign object’ from patient’s anus: lawsuit


They should’ve just butt out.

New York Presbyterian Hospital administrators bizarrely grilled a female surgeon on her sex life and accused her of violating a patient’s privacy after she helped save a man with a “large foreign object” stuck in his rectum, she contends in a new lawsuit.

Doctors struggled to help the man during the February 2020 incident, said colorectal surgeon Dr. Deborah Keller, who was called in multiple times to assist and finally helped successfully extract the unidentified item from the patient’s body.

But instead of praising her for kicking butt, Keller, 41, claims the next day she was put on administrative leave and later “interrogated” by hospital administrators, who “sexualized” the object as a “dildo”; questioned whether Keller was having sex with the male surgeon in charge of the patient’s care, and violated the man’s privacy by circulating an image of the object, she claims in a Manhattan Federal Court lawsuit.

Dr. Deborah Keller
After Surgeon Dr. Deborah Keller helped remove an object from a man’s rectum, hospital administration interrogated her sex life and put her on administrative leave.
Provided
New York Presbyterian
Dr. Deborah Keller alleges in a lawsuit that hospital administration accused her of circulating an image of the object removed from the man’s anus and that they demeaned her work and profession.
AP

The inquisition by the hospital’s internal hearing committee was “demeaning and embarrassing,” said Keller, who declined to discuss the object and claims doctors “don’t really know” what the “massive” missile-shaped item was.

“They kept using inappropriate terms for the foreign [object], it was just getting contentious and questions that just didn’t have anything to do with the practice of medicine or patient care or colorectal surgery, making what I do seem like a joke,” said Keller.

Asked if she took pictures of the object and the procedure, Keller responded that she had already prepped herself for the procedure, and was not taking pictures.

NY Presbyterian hospital
Keller was the only woman involved in the surgery and the only doctor to be placed on administrative leave. She believes she is the subject of gender discrimination.
AP

The male doctor in charge of the patient’s case, Mark Kiely, had gotten the patient’s permission to take photos and videos of the incident for educational purposes, Keller said in court papers.

Kiely called Keller to help “due to her recognized expertise,” she said in court papers.

Kiely was never interrogated about an affair and was initially suspended but was reinstated, Keller contended in the legal filing, in which she denied having a sexual relationship with her colleague.

She admitted in court papers to sending a picture of the unidentified anal object to a surgical resident who had struggled to remove it in the emergency room — but only in an effort to show that the object was too large to remove without going to the operating room, she said in the litigation.

NY Presbyterian Hospital
Dr. Deborah Keller maintains that she only shared an image of the removed object for medical training purposes.
AP

Keller, who was the only woman doctor involved in the case and the only one who lost her job, believes she was targeted because of eight prior complaints of gender discrimination she had filed against her boss, New York Presbyterian Chief of Colorectal Surgery Pokala Ravi Kiran.

Kiran’s “relentless sexism” included comments on her body and appearance, taking away her office, diverting new patients to male colleagues, and sabotaging a prestigious National Institutes of Health research grant she’d won, Keller claims in court papers.

Kiran even allegedly slammed the surgeon as “a problem, emotional, not someone to work with,” she charges in the complaint.

Doctors had been struggling to remove the object from the man’s rectum, and Dr. Deborah Keller was brought in multiple times to assist due to her expertise the lawsuit alleges.
Shutterstock / Gorodenkoff

The hospital had already told her it wouldn’t renew her contract, prior to the incident with the patient — but then allegedly submitted false reports about the episode to the National Practitioner Data Bank, leaving a “black mark” on her reputation and making it impossible for her to get another job as a surgeon, alleges Keller.

She now works as a researcher and assistant professor in California.  “They are literally trying to ruin my career,” she said.

Hospital bed
Dr. Deborah Keller says that New York Presbyterian is trying to ruin her career and prevent her from working as a surgeon.
Shutterstock / BigPixel Photo

“It’s vicious in a way that we very rarely see,” said Keller’s attorney George Vallas.

Neither Kiran nor Kiely could be reached for comment. New York Presbyterian did not return a message seeking comment.



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