Hospital CEO “Cut!” After Participating In Surgery

Yes, you read that title correctly! And no, the CEO was not an MD!!! Check this out.  What you will see is one of the more bizarre stories you will encounter this week. Guaranteed!

Here’s the deal. For some inexplicable reason, the CEO of a hospital in Bristol, TN entered an operating room to “observe” a surgical procedure. What he expected to learn from this observation process remains unclear. What is clear is that, for some other inexplicable reason, the surgeon in charge of the case asked the CEO if he would like to make the first incision on the anesthetized patient. He did!  

As tends to happen in 2020, word of this “got out.” First to the hospital’s compliance program, and then through the press. What happened next?  Exactly what you would think. The CEO and the surgeon are no longer employed at that institution.  

Is that all? Perhaps not. This blog post contains mention of possible criminal actions against the CEO, and the possibility of civil lawsuits as well!

Bottom Line. But wait. Maybe there is more going on here than meets the eye. I’m thinking that this is really a story about an “In the heat of the moment” fantasy.

Ask 5,000 surgeons on Twitter if they would let their hospital CEO’s make an incision in their patients. The answer? A resounding “Hell, NO!” Good rational thinking in response to a survey question.  

BUT. What MBA hospital administrator has not fantasized about being a doctor, you know, one of the guys who really make the hospital work? And what surgeon has not wanted to show his CEO who is really boss by letting him play with his toys, unfortunately in this case a patient’s body? 

In a world where habits, heuristics and emotions account for the vast majority of human behavior, consider this just one more reminder of how imperfectly survey responses predict actual behavior! The kind that occurs “In the heat of the moment.” 


  • Exposing a patient to unnecessary risk is bad management. (After all, he’s a senior manager, not a surgeon, right?). I’ve studied surgical site infections and major consequences can arise from minor errors (how well did the CEO observe sterile technique, for example).

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