Friday, March 10, 2006

Doctor Handcuffed

Dr. Federico Castro-Moure(Oakland, California) This story is quite troubling. I sense a certain tick -- tick -- tick nature about Dr. Castro-Moure.

The chief of neurosurgery at Highland Hospital was wrestled to an operating room floor by deputies and arrested after allegedly throwing a fit when a nurse refused to let him operate, authorities said.

Federico Castro-Moure, 45, was arrested Monday night on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol and interfering with the duty of officers, said Alameda County sheriff's Lt. Jim Knudson.

Castro-Moure became belligerent after insisting on operating on a man who broke his ankles and fractured his spine in a two-story fall, according to the sheriff's department.

Two other surgeons had determined the injuries were not life-threatening, but Castro-Moure insisted the man would die if he did not receive immediate attention, the report said.

He "threw a fit" and began yelling and cursing at staff when they told him equipment for the procedure needed to be transferred from another hospital, according to the report. When the surgical instruments arrived, a nurse refused to allow Castro-Moure to operate until they could be sterilized.

Castro-Moure threatened the nurse by punching his fist in his hand. He took a swing at deputies after they were called to intervene.

"Do you know that I am a (expletive) doctor, and I'm going to do what I want," he said, according to a witness.
Interestingly, as Dr. Castro-Moure was demonstrating his elevated self-image, he mentioned to deputies that he only had one glass of wine with dinner. Since it took the strength of three deputies to wrestle Castro-Moure to the floor and put on handcuffs, he must have had one robust glass of wine.

According to Capt. William Eskridge of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, Castro-Moure wouldn't properly blow into a breathalyzer so no evidence was obtained to prove he was inebriated. However, the smell of alcohol and his aggressive behavior led deputies to believe he was drunk.

Eskridge indicated Castro-Moure would likely face a resisting arrest charge. The district attorney must decide by April 6 on how Castro-Moure is to be charged. Additionally, the California Medical Board and the hospital are expected to conduct their own investigations of the incident and Castro-Moure could potentially be stripped of his license to practice medicine in the state.

My take is that something is missing in the story. Not for a second do I believe that one glass of wine would prompt the well-respected head of neurosurgery at a prominent hospital to go berserk in the operating room. Not for a second would I tolerate the chance of recurrence either. If alcohol is the trigger for his behavior, Castro-Moure has a significant problem. If not alcohol, then something else streamed through his veins or there is a pathological cause.

Other than the subject outburst of irrationality, Castro-Moure has an impeccable record. Educated at Collegio Mayor de Nuestra Senora del Rosario in Bogota, Colombia, and Wayne State University in Detroit, he has been on staff at Highland Hospital since 1999.

In any case, the event should not be glossed over nor should it be considered an isolated incident. The combative fist that threatened the nurses and deputies should not be allowed near a patient until the specific cause of Dr. Castro-Moure's behavior has been pinpointed and corrected.

By the way, the man with the spinal injury watched the whole incident and underwent surgery the following morning. He's fine.

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