Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Dr Rainer Gruessner: Owed a Public Apology

Dr Rainer Gruessner, a renowned transplant surgeon, has been cleared of all charges against him. An independent panel ruled on August 25, 2014 that Dr Rainer Gruessner did not improperly alter or direct others to alter records, allegations that led Gruessner's suspension in September 2013, and later to his termination.

The panel, consisting of three nationally acclaimed liver transplant surgeons, found that Dr Rainer Gruessner "acted reasonably" and said that University Physicians Healthcare UPH), the practice plan that employs College of Medicine faculty at the University of Arizona Medical Center "did not meet its burden of proving that" Gruessner's subsequent termination was justified.

The panel also said that Dr Rainer Gruessner deserves to have his name cleared, and that he is owed a public apology.

On September 5, 2014, UPH finally agreed that the termination was wrong and offered an apology.
"I am absolutely delighted that I've finally been fully vindicated after fighting to be able to tell my story," Gruessner said in a statement issued after the ruling. "If only the administration would have given me the opportunity a year ago, we could have avoided all of the costs and heartache over the last year."

Dr Rainer Gruessner has said all along that the allegations against him were a political ploy by then-Dean  Steven Goldschmid, who wanted to force Gruessner's departure. The panel agreed.
At the time of his wrongful termination, Dr Rainer Gruessner was the Chairman of Surgery and Chief of Abdominal Transplantation at the University of Arizona. He is an accomplished surgeon who has been in surgical leadership positions for sixteen years.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Dr. Rainer Gruessner cleared of all charges and completely exonerated

Dr. Rainer Gruessner, a world renowned surgeon and academic leader, was unanimously exonerated by a hearing panel that consisted of national liver transplant experts selected by both sides as impartial and knowledgeable in the issues relevant to this case.  The hearing on August 5, 2014 was brought about by a Pima County Superior Court ruling designed to rectify administrative maleficence by the University of Arizona Health Network.  On March 7, 2014, Judge Carmine Cornelio found that Dr. Gruessner was terminated without the appropriate level of due process that is required for such decisions by state institutions.  Specifically, the Judge was not convinced the decision to terminate Dr. Gruessner was reasonable by a preponderance of the evidence and mandated that a fair and impartial panel be assigned by UPH to review their decision.  

The most important finding of the Hearing Panel was their opinion that Dr. Gruessner acted reasonably in requesting the database corrections.  The University of Arizona Health Network used only one specific case to explain their allegation – one in which it was claimed that Dr. Gruessner removed himself from a case in which the patient died.  This idea was strongly rejected by the panel.  Dr. Waldrum, CEO of the University of Arizona Health Network, testified that his decision to terminate Dr. Gruessner was not based on a review of the operative report for this case or other records.  When these records were reviewed by the Hearing Panel, they easily concluded that “Dr. Gruessner would not aptly be designed the primary surgeon.”  The panel also noted that the University of Arizona Health Network did not change any of the database records back after they identified the changes, suggesting a lack of conviction by the University of Arizona Health Network in their core allegations used to justify firing Dr. Gruessner.  

It seemed particularly troublesome for the Hearing Panel that almost all those in support of the the University of Arizona Health Network “testified” by reading court transcripts of their March 7 testimonies.  In contrast, support of Dr. Gruessner was provided by in-person or live telephone testimony.  The panel accepted Dr. Gruessner’s position that the root cause of this controversy was misunderstandings driven by the “charged political rivalry with Dr. Goldschmid”.  The Panel felt that these problems could have been readily avoidable with a modicum of good will and trust, which was not provided to Dr. Gruessner.  Instead the hearing panel felt that the University of Arizona Health Network appeared to choose avenues that escalated conflict despite their own acknowledgment in his outstanding clinical capabilities and “explosive” growth of transplantation under his prior leadership.  Repeated testimony during the hearing pointed to Dr. Goldschmid’s specific culpability in these events.  Failure of the University of Arizona Health Network to allow Goldschmid to testify himself seemed to further reinforce this message to the hearing panel. In fact, not allowing Dr. Goldschmid to testify sent as strongly contradictory message to the hearing panel as the failure of UPH to change back the database changes they uncovered.

Regarding Dr. Gruessner’s resignation as the transplant program director, the panel decided that UNOS was required to be notified of this event, Gruessner’s notification did not cause harm to UPH and allegations to the contrary were not cited initially as grounds for termination.  Because a hearing designed to follow “due process” must focus on the written notice of reasons for termination, this and all other allegations raised at the hearing against Dr. Gruessner were deemed “unrelated to the issues of the case”.  

Based on their determination about wrongful termination, the panel recommended that the University of Arizona Health Network issues a public apology to Dr. Gruessner and that Dr. Gruessner’s reputation be restored as evidenced by immediate reinstatement as a Professor of Surgery at the University of Arizona Medical Center.

On September 5, 2014, UPH finally agreed with the panel’s decision that the termination was wrong and offered an apology.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Dr Rainer Gruessner: Never Quit

Dr Rainer Gruessner has always been a believer in the idea that nothing is impossible, and that no challenge is too great or overwhelming to be overcome and conquered. An innovative and talented physician who consistently rises up to new challenges, Gruessner encourages people in every profession to never give up on the pursuit of their objectives, and to meet new obstacles head on and with enthusiasm. 

Surgery, particularly transplantation, is certainly not without a high degree of technical and intellectual difficulty, presenting many new and unique challenges to anyone in pursuit of a medical career. A well-qualified and established transplant surgeon with years of surgical experience, Dr Rainer Gruessner has had the opportunity to face many new and challenging hurdles throughout his career, though he has always managed him through difficult obstacles with diligence and tenacity. Working in an academic environment, as Gruessner knows, offers professionals the chance to not only work together to solve complex problems, but to also combine both creativity and methodology to develop improvements, if not solutions, to what may have seemingly been insurmountable obstacles.

Dr Rainer Gruessner was appointed Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in 2007 and he has enjoyed numerous opportunities to meet difficulties head on, and to work with colleagues to discover and develop new techniques and methods that increase the chance for success during what can be complex surgical procedures. An expert in transplantation, Gruessner has directed teams that have successfully performed multiple organ transplants at once, overcoming what were previously daunting obstacles to provide patients a better chance at survival and good health.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Dr Rainer Gruessner: Helping Those in Need

As a renowned transplant surgeon, Dr Rainer Gruessner continues to provide the exemplary surgical care, treatment and service people deserve to live longer and healthier lives. 
Appointed in 2007 as the head of the Department of Surgery at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Gruessner has provided years of expert surgical management; skills that are built on many years of high-quality education, experience and research.

Often known as a surgeon of “firsts”, Dr Rainer Gruessner has been fortunate to have directed or participated in many new and innovative surgical procedures. Amongst these are the first standardized technique for living donor intestinal transplants, the first preemptive living donor liver transplant for oxalosis in an infant,the first laparoscopic living donor distal pancreatectomy and nephrectomy and, most recently, the first robot-assisted total pancreatectomy with islet autotransplant. Rainer Gruessner was also involved in the world’s first split pancreas transplant.His experience in innovative procedures has earned him many accolades and much respect throughout his career, and has also established Gruessner as the number one source of transplant surgery in the entire region.

Though Dr Rainer Gruessner is considered one of the top minds in modern transplantation, he is also considered a fervent believer and advocate in patients’ rights to receive only the best-quality medical care. An approachable and humble surgeon, Gruessner approaches each new procedure with the care, diligence, concern and compassion of a medical professional truly invested in the health and comfort of the patient, and continually demonstrated a strong concern for the patient’s needs.

Dr Rainer Gruessner has received much of his medical education in Germany, though he has received high-quality medical training in the United States and Japan. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Dr Rainer Gruessner: A Nationally Accomplished and Respected Surgeon

Dr Rainer Gruessner is a humble and friendly man, and a casual encounter with him might leave the impression of a successful but rather ordinary man. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.

Dr. Gruessner is a very accomplished surgeon who has performed many notable “firsts” in the fields of surgery and transplantation during the course of his career. He was involved in the world’s first split pancreas transplant in 1988, and he described and performed the first standardized technique for living donor intestinal transplants in 1997. In 2012, Dr Rainer Gruessner and his team performed the first robot-assisted total pancreatectomy with islet autotransplant.

Gruessner was appointed Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine in 2007, and served as the Surgical Director of the University’s Hepatopancreaticobiliary Program and the Surgical Director of the Abdominal Transplant Program. He is a tenured Professor of Surgery and Immunology. Dr Rainer Gruessner received his medical education in Europe, where he graduated in 1983. He was awarded a rare “summa cum laude “ for his Doctoral Thesis. At Philipps-Universit├Ąt in Marburg, Germany, he completed his Professorial Thesis (“Habilitation”, the German PhD-equivalent). 

He completed a transplantation fellowship at the University of Minnesota in 1989. He moved on to be the Professor of Surgery and Chairman in the Department of General and Transplant Surgery at University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, and a tenured Professor of General and Transplant Surgery at the University of Minnesota, where he was also Vice Chair of the Department of Surgery.

Gruessner is a member of numerous prestigious professional societies, including the American Surgical Association, the Halsted Society, the Society of Surgical Chairs, the Transplantation Society and the Society of University Surgeons. He is a Board member for many professional journals, including Pancreatic Disorders and Therapy, the Journal of Investigative Surgery, Clinical Transplantation and Transplant International. He is also a devoted family man, and the proud father of two medical students.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Dr Rainer Gruessner: Map Collector

Dr Rainer Gruessner is a surgeon who was appointed Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine in 2007. Dr Rainer Gruessner has been in surgical leadership positions or the last sixteen years, either as chair or vice-chair.

Gruessner is also a leading authority on diabetes mellitus, transplant immunology, and clinical transplantation.

Dr Rainer Gruessner has many interests outside of the discipline of medicine. He studies American Indian culture and contemporary art, and is also a collector of books and maps.

As Gruessner knows, a map must have been printed or drawn at least one hundred years ago in order to be considered an antique. Many antique maps include the date the map was published, either in the title or in other parts of the map where publication information is included. These dates usually refer to the first year the map was offered for sale or the year the right to print the map was obtained. Dates on maps are not entirely reliable. Many maps were issued for more than one year without any changes having been made. For example, many 19th Century mapmakers did not change the dates on their atlas maps. For these maps, collectors like Dr Rainer Gruessner look at the content of the map, or for other clues that will provide them with a more accurate dating.

Gruessner is specifically interested in maps of the Americas of the 16th and 17th century when very little was known about the New World. “These maps are completely inaccurate, but they give us an understanding of how cartography and the mapping of America has evolved over time.”

Dr Rainer Gruessner keeps fit by playing tennis, skiing, swimming, and by running. He is also a music lover who plays the piano and organ.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Dr Rainer Gruessner: Native American Culture

Dr Rainer Gruessner was appointed chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine in 2007. It is a role that kept him extraordinarily busy, but he still manages to find time to pursue those things that interest him outside of medicine.

One of the things that interest Gruessner is American Indian culture and art. As a resident of Tucson, Arizona, there is much that Dr. Gruessner can learn about in his own back yard. Indigenous people have lived in present-day Arizona for thousands of years, and more than one fourth of the State’s area is reservation land.

Among the many Native American cultures indigenous to Arizona is the Navajo Nation, which, as Dr Rainer Gruessner knows, has the largest Native American reservation in the United States. Navajo culture and traditions were centered on family life. Navajo culture has always been centered on ceremonies and rituals. Some of their chants may last as long as nine days and require dozens of helpers.

It was of particular interest to Gruessner that the most important Navajo ceremonies are for treatment of ills, both mental and physical. The Navajo culture used sand painting as a spiritual way to heal the sick. When they sand painted, they made the painting in a smooth bed of sand, which was only temporary. Crushed yellow ochre, red sandstone, gypsum, and charcoal were used to create the images during their chants. The chants were for the Earth people and the holy people to come back into harmony, which provides them protection and healing.

Dr Rainer Gruessner has taken great pride in the fact that his department has trained a total of 7 Native Americans to become surgeons. All of them have gone back to the reservations and practice surgery there at the major hospitals. His is the residency program that has trained the most Native Americans in the last 10 years.

Dr Rainer Gruessner has been in surgical leadership positions for sixteen years, in either Chair or Vice-Chair positions.