Dr. Johnny Delashaw resigned less than three weeks after he was prominently featured in a Seattle Times investigation.
The high-producing neurosurgeon who has led a dramatic shift in the business at Swedish Health has resigned, officials said Wednesday, less than three weeks after a Seattle Times investigation exposed widespread concerns about his practices.
Dr. Johnny Delashaw stepped down as chair of the Swedish Neuroscience Institute (SNI) and will no longer practice at Swedish, wrote interim CEO Guy Hudson in a memo to Swedish staff on Wednesday evening. The resignation comes after Delashaw was prominently featured in The Times’ investigation about the neuroscience institute.
“I will be working immediately with our physicians and leadership at SNI on next steps during this transition,” Hudson wrote in the memo. “As a team, we are firmly committed to supporting our patients and caregivers and are focused on what is most important: safe, compassionate and high-quality care.”
A SEATTLE TIMES SPECIAL REPORT
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Delashaw’s departure follows the resignation of Swedish CEO Tony Armada, who stepped down last week. State regulators have also launched an investigation into the practices of Swedish-Cherry Hill, the campus where the neuroscience team is based.
Delashaw, who didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment Wednesday, is a renowned doctor with a reputation as a workhorse surgeon who handles hundreds of cases every year, generating massive revenues. Hospital leaders recruited Delashaw in 2013 from an institution in California, where he had been dealing with an internal investigation and allegations that he may have performed unnecessary surgeries and that his patients had high rates of medical complications.
After arriving at Swedish, Delashaw quickly emerged as the highest-volume brain or spine surgeon in the state, handling 661 inpatient cases totaling more than $86 million in billed charges for the hospital in his first 16 months. But in that time, he faced dozens of internal complaints from Swedish staffers, according to records.
Records show that, among the issues, his colleagues had expressed concern that Delashaw had created a culture of retribution, making it difficult to question his decisions.
Hudson, the interim CEO, has held forums with Swedish staffers in recent days and said in his memo Wednesday “it is clear to me that caregivers at Swedish have not always felt heard — and this will change.”
Delashaw, who previously worked at Oregon Health & Science University and The University of California, Irvine, has said the complaints about his work at Swedish came from those who were resisting change in the organization’s culture. He had said prior to publication of the Times investigation that he and his colleagues at Swedish were doing work that could change the world by helping cure paralysis.
As part of its dramatic rise in cases and billings, Swedish and Delashaw have attracted patients from all over the country. But current and former staffers have said that Delashaw and others sometimes did little in the operating room and instead left surgical fellows to handle much of the work.
In interviews and internal memos, staffers relayed a range of concerns about patient care, inappropriate surgeries, a lack of accountability when patients developed complications, and dubious decisions that resulted in patient harm and death. One of the Times stories featured the harrowing case of Talia Goldenberg, a young woman from Oregon who underwent surgery with Delashaw in 2014.