Belkin, Lisa. "Bold Doctor Is Dismissed by Dean," New York Times, 9 July 1992, p. B5.
Here is something of a spinoff from a previous posting concerning Libby Zion, the young woman
who was a victim of mistreatment at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical in 1984. Libby Zion
died in part because, New York State found, her medical care had been provided by overtired and
overworked residents and interns. In an effort to prevent this kind of patient abuse from
recurring, the state health department enacted what are known as the Libby Zion rules, which
limit the number of hours residents can work and increase the supervision provided residents.
The man who chaired the committee which wrote those rules was Bertrand M. Bell and he has
remained a staunch supporter of enforcement of those rules. In the years since 1986, he has
critical of the City's abuse of residents. He has been a zealot about those rules.
Enforcing state regulations which conflict with medical-professional tradition can be expensive
for the individual. Doctor Bell's insistence on their implementation has cost him. When one
champions restructuring graduate medical education by administrative fiat, one runs risks:
traditions are highly valued while bureaucratic regulations, resented. The sanction for such
unprofessional behavior as bureaucratic whistle-blowing are severe, as Dr. Bell has learned.
Bell has been critical of the dean of Albert Einstein Medical College for his flouting the rules
regarding working conditions for residents. The dean, Dominick P. Purpura, has removed Dr.
Bell from his position as director of ambulatory-care services at Bronx municipal hospital; Dr.
Purpura can do this in that as dean of Einstein, through Einstein's affiliation with Bronx
Municipal, he has the say as to staffing at Bronx Municipal. Bert Bell is presently out of his job
even though he retains his academic appointment.
There is no question that being a "zealot" regarding the education of young physicians can get
one into trouble; being a zealot is always risky. Now the whistle-blower is out and the best the
authorities can do it hope that a rapprochement can be achieved.
Whistle-blowers take note.