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The Detroit Medical Center's training program for neurosurgeons will lose its accreditation in June after the hospital chain was denied on appeal.

The Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education announced in September that it would withdraw accreditation from the Neurological Surgery Residency Program. 

The DMC last month appealed the decision, but ACGME has denied the health system's appeal, according to a letter sent to DMC staff on Wednesday by Chief Executive Officer Dr. Audrey Gregory.

"We have been informed by ACGME that our appeal was not successful. We are disappointed in ACGME's decision," Gregory said in her letter. "We believe that our program substantially complied with ACGME standards and that our continued efforts to optimize the program merited continued accreditation.

"In the coming weeks, we will begin the process of reestablishing this residency."

The rejected appeal puts into question the futures of at least 12 residents enrolled in the DMC's seven-year program.

The DMC did not respond to a request from The Detroit News for details on the DMC's plans to rebuild the program, and for information on the status of neurosurgery residents who will not graduate from the program by June.

"We believe that our program substantially complied with ACGME standards and that our continued efforts to optimize the program merited continued accreditation," DMC spokesman Brian Taylor said in an email. "In the coming weeks, we will begin the process of reestablishing this residency program.

"...Training the physicians of tomorrow is an essential part of our mission.  We are confident that our refreshed neurological surgery residency program will exemplify the strong leadership and training environment required to provide neurosurgery residents with a safe, professional and dynamic clinical learning environment and provide valuable resources to our patients."

Neurosurgeons must graduate from a residency program accredited by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education to become board certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery, a critical credential for entering the field. Neurosurgery requires more residency training than any other medical specialty at seven years.

Loss of accreditation for one of DMC's most elite residency programs could damage the DMC's reputation. It underscores concerns by critics that the institution's historic commitments to education, research and indigent care have eroded since the health system's purchase by for-profit hospital chains. 

The DMC was purchased amid controversy in 2011 by for-profit Vanguard Health Systems, a Tennessee-based hospital chain. Its current owner is Dallas-based for-profit Tenet Healthcare, which acquired Vanguard in 2013.

Loss of accreditation for the program highlighted discord between the DMC and the Wayne State University Medical School, its long-standing academic partner. 

The DMC's 65 residency programs are solely sponsored by the DMC, but Wayne State holds contracts with the health system to provide academic training for the residents. 

Problems with the neurosurgeon residency program may have originated in part with the departure of faculty doctors from the University Physicians Group when the group practice — which represents hundreds of faculty physicians — declared bankruptcy in November 2018.

Judge Mark Randon of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit approved UPG's Chapter 11 reorganization in June.

After four of six teaching physicians in the neurosurgery residency program left UPG in November 2018 and became employees of the DMC, the medical school declined to renew their faculty appointments. 

The two remaining teaching physicians then left the DMC, leaving the neurosurgery residency program with no faculty physicians. 

kbouffard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @kbouffardDN

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