The Navy: Bypassing a Heart Surgeon

Bypassing a Heart Surgeon

Although Dr. Donal Billig had a flawed record as a physician, he got further than most: in little more than a year, he went from serving on the staff of a Pittsburgh hospital to running cardiothoracic surgery at Bethesda Naval Hospital, the Navy's flagship health operation. But his success was of short duration. After an in-house investigation, Bethesda suspended Billig last week for "an insufficient level of surgical competence."

Billig's problems began when a New Jersey hospital where he was working in 1980 refused to allow him to operate without supervision because of questionable surgical judgment. He later resigned from that...

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