The University of Southern California is losing national accreditation for a medical training program dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct.
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education notified USC and Los Angeles County this week that their joint-run fellowship in cardiovascular disease will be stripped of accreditation next year. The decision is final and would effectively shut down the program, which had 15 slots for a three-year curriculum.
USC said it hoped to have a new cardiology fellowship program in place before the current one closes in June 2020.
“We are fully committed to working with the ACGME and USC to take every action necessary to restore our standing for all residency training programs,” said Christina Ghaly, director of the county Department of Health Services. “We are determined to deliver an exceptional training environment that is safe and inclusive for every physician completing graduate medical education.”
The accreditation council gave no public reason for its decision. However, the Times said USC’s medical school dean, Dr. Laura Mosqueda, announced the decision Thursday in a faculty memo that said it was based on concerns about “resident safety and wellness processes.”
The school and the county were sued in 2017 by Dr. Meena Zareh, who alleged while she was a resident she was groped by a fellow in the program, Dr. Guillermo Cortes, and that the incident was never properly investigated. Two other women later came forward with similar assault allegations.
Cortes’ attorney has said his client denies the allegations.
It’s the latest embarrassment for USC’s medical school and health services. The Times reported that previous medical school dean Dr. Carmen Puliafito associated with criminals and people who used drugs and had been captured on video apparently smoking methamphetamine. He gave up his post in 2016 but remained a faculty member until USC fired him in 2017.
USC President C. L. Max Nikias resigned last summer amid reports that the school ignored complaints of widespread sexual misconduct by a longtime campus gynecologist.