Dr Timothy Kuklo now on “Leave of Absence” from Washington University in St Louis School of Medicine

Dr Kuklo Resigns in Disgrace

The New York Times is reporting that Dr Timothy R. Kuklo, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery with a specialty in spinal and lower-limb restoration, has been placed on a leave of absence from Washington Univesity in St Louis School of Medicine. This may be construed as a quasi suspension or as a prelude to dismissal depending on the circumstances unfolding at the St Louis campus.

The power of the press is considerable. The New York Times ran four stories on this case in which Colonel Kuklo {ret} falsified research that he performed on wounded soldiers from Iraq, lied about having four co-authors from Walter Reed Army Medical Center for an article retracted by its publisher and recklessly promoted the efficacy of the Medtronic Inc. product Infuse. Dr Kuklo claimed it was a breakthrough in bone growth restoration in lower-limb injured patients as opposed to other more routine treatments and inferentially in spine-cervical application as well.

Although Dr Kuklo’s article was withdrawn from publication and the army determined he did not follow appropriate protocol in submitting or publishing “research” while on staff at Walter Reed, there appeared to be foot dragging in resolving this matter at Washington University. Now, due to mounting pressure including possible Congressional inquiry into the doctor’s consultancy relationship with the Minneapolis firm, Medtronic Inc. that began in 2006, Dr Kuklo is now essentially suspended. While no academic institution should render judgment based on outside pressure, clearly the facts in this case were so substantial that to ignore them would have been dismissive of a university’s mission: to search for the truth. Dr Kuklo cannot meet patients; he cannot consult on patient care. He is prohibited from performing any duties at the medical school or its affiliated hospitals such as Barnes-Jewish.

If this is an actual suspension, he should be compensated with benefits and pension contributions as before. If this is a prelude to a dismissal based upon misconduct and unethical behaviour, then such a decision need not be accompanied by continued compensation. As a tenured faculty member, Dr Kuklo cannot, repeat cannot be suspended without pay but he could be dismissed for moral turpitude.

If he voluntarily took a leave of absence, then normally that period is not subject to remuneration. I would be concerned if he were forced to take an unpaid leave of absence.  However, given the circumstances in which his concoted research may have harmed patients, it is clearly in the public interest that he not practice medicine.

While he is presently not in a position to exploit patients for corporate subsidised research, it is hoped that he will never practice medicine in the future. I believe he should upon due consideration be relieved of his medical license and his privilege to practice medicine in the United States. He is a fraud, a physician without ethical compass, and a disgrace to the medical profession. One may feel compassion for a forty-eight year old professor whose career is essentially terminated and perhaps pity that a talented doctor and lawyer has self-destructed.

However, in the field of medicine, one MUST not harm patients or lose sight of one’s primary mission. To heal, to succor, to serve as an advocate for patient care. Publishing falsified research that could be improperly used by unsuspecting physicians in managing the care of their patients is so egregious that it is difficult for me to imagine any useful purpose in the restoration of his medical career but considerable relief that he is not in a position to exploit other patients under his care.

To those like my father, who along with so many others built Washington University School of Medicine into one of the world’s leading medical faculties and centers of  wellness and patient care, you may rest easier that this sordid affair is apparently reaching its final disposition and that the integrity and honour of Washington University in St Louis School of Medicine is in the process of restoration.

Kirstein Blog other Colonel Kuklo articles:

Kuklo AWOL? July 15

Million Dollar Baby

June 16. 2009

May 30, 2009

Dr Kuklo is on leave of absence!

May 22, 2009

May 20, 2009

May 18, 2009

May 17, 2009

May 15, 2009

May 14, 2009

May 13, 2009

comments and information to Kirstein@sxu.edu

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