Chief of cardiothoracic surgery and pediatric heart program at UK, suspended from surgeries, takes job in Florida

Dr. Mark Plunkett, the chief University of Kentucky cardiothoracic surgeon whose surgery program was suspended last year for unspecified reasons, has accepted a new job a the University of Florida.

The internal review of UK HealthCare‘s pediatric cardiothoractic program is ongoing and should be completed in the next few weeks, Michael Karpf, UK’s executive vice president for health affairs, told Linda Blackford of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

In December, Brenna Angel, reporter for university radio station WUKY, identified Plunkett as the surgeon at the center of the program review. At the time, Plunkett was on a leave of absence but remained on staff with a $700,000 salary, Angel reported. WUKY requested data under the Kentucky Open Records Act about Plunkett’s most recent surgery and his patient mortality rate, but UK denied such requests. Attorney General Jack Conway ruled that UK must release the mortality rates and other data, but UK Has appealed to Fayette Circuit Court, citing privacy rules in the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, even though Conway said HIPAA doesn’t preempt the Open Records Act, as Angel reported. Angel has since left the station for Lexington city government but the station and the Herald-Leader are defending the appeal.

In addition to being chief of UK’s Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Plunkett was director of its pediatric cardiac program and a co-director of UK’s Gill Heart Institute, says his UK biography. He came to UK in 2007 from the UCLA medical center, where he worked with Karpf.

His resignation is effective Aug. 14, UK officials told Blackford.

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