Doctors who performed surgery on a man who said he was raped by three men while he was in a coma have been fired.
The American Medical Association voted Thursday to reprimand Dr. Anthony Fowler, who performed the surgery on the 44-year-old man, who said in October that he was attacked by three different men while unconscious in the ICU.
Fowler, the chief neurologist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, was fired after he was asked by a patient to “reevaluate the scope” of his hospital’s sexual assault policy, which he described as “an inadequate system.”
Fowler was among the doctors who performed an operation on the man in October after his mother reported he was sexually assaulted by three of the three men.
In a statement, the AMA said the decision to fire Fowler was made because of the “serious issues” surrounding his conduct and “the serious consequences for our patients of his misconduct.”
The medical association is the country’s largest union of doctors.
The doctor, who has been with the hospital for more than two decades, was removed from the department in January, the statement said.
Fowler’s firing comes as the AMA, which has long had an independent disciplinary system, is under scrutiny from lawmakers and watchdog groups who say the AMA has not properly addressed sexual assault.
The AMA said it “does not condone misconduct of any kind and would take appropriate disciplinary action should there be such a matter.”
The president of the AMA’s National Medical Board, Dr. Andrew Noll, told ABC News that he could not comment on specific cases, citing the pending lawsuit.
He said the organization is “working to ensure the integrity of our medical workforce.”
Noll said in an email that the AMA would “ensure that every member of our team who performs surgeries in our facilities is able to conduct their duties with dignity and respect.”
“We recognize that the allegations in this case are difficult and upsetting for the patient and family involved,” Noll wrote.
“We believe that we have a system in place to provide professional, safe care, and to assure that our employees are held to the highest standards of care.
We are committed to addressing the issues raised by the patient, his family and others.
We have a very strong and robust and thorough program of oversight and reporting.”
The patient, whose name has not been released, was treated at the Jackson ICU by Fowler and his colleagues at Jackson Methodist Medical Center.
Fowler told the patient in October, “I have to tell you, I feel like I’ve just been assaulted by the world.
You can say you’ve been raped, but that doesn’t change anything.”
The hospital’s policy requires that all patients be placed into a coma, and he was placed into one in December.
He died two days later.
“I feel like it was the right thing to do,” Fowler told ABC affiliate WLOX.
“It’s a very, very hard situation, and I’m going to continue to fight it every step of the way.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.