What happens when everything you’ve worked so hard for in your career is threatened…by a liar?
A young CT surgeon unexpectedly finds himself the subject of false public accusations by a patient’s lawyer. Rather than letting his fledging career be destroyed, Dr. Ricardo Quarrie (now a clinical associate in cardiothoracic surgery at the Cleveland Clinic) decided to fight back. Here’s the incredible story of what happened, along with his advice for others in healthcare who’ve seen their reputations falsely attacked. A fascinating discussion and an audio-only Incident Report!
Check out the CNN piece on Dr. Quarrie here.
Or check it out on SoundCloud below!
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– Guys, Z-Pac, I’m really excited. This is our first audio-only podcast interview and we have a very special guest today. Just some quick housekeeping, wanted to let you guys know that there’s a new subscription service, a way you can support the show on Facebook. For 4.99 a month, you can get access to early releases, exclusive live video conversations with me and you can help shape the conversation that shows up on the main page. So, definitely check that out and share this audio podcast. The way you can help us here is to subscribe, to leave a review, especially if you’re using iTunes, a star review or a written review. It helps us a lot to spread the word. Okay, today we have a very, very important guest. This is a conversation that is gonna affect everybody in health care because it really gets to the heart of our relationship with patients, our relationships with our institutions, and our online reputation that, in this day and age, can shape so much of our career. And it feels like so much of it is out of our control, and the question is how do we keep it in our control? Our guest today is Dr Ricardo Quarrie. He is a clinical associate in cardiothoracic surgery at the Cleveland Clinic and recently we talked about him on our show because CNN ran a piece about how he, in 2016, was the victim of a false accusation during a patient lawsuit against the hospital he was working at at the time which was Yale. The patient accused, through his lawyer, through her lawyer, accused him of lying about a procedure-related event and an error that was made. And that accusation was, ultimately, recanted by the lawyer, some years later, but the damage to Dr Quarrie’s career already was substantial. Since that time a lot has happened. And so I wanna go back and hear from Dr Quarrie about what happened, how it was ultimately revealed that these accusations were false and what we can do to recover our reputations and protect them online. Dr Quarrie, thanks for joining us.
– Thank you so much for having me, it’s a pleasure to be here.
– It’s really, I’m really glad when people actually agree to be on the show because I think a lot of times people see what we do and they go oh, this guy’s like some rapping doctor clown, I’m not sure I wanna be associated with it. But someone like you who’s already been reputationally burned by false accusations online, to see our platform as something that you can use to help get your story out means a lot to us. So, thanks again.
– No, thank you.
– So, let’s back up. You have an interesting story because you’re actually a Jamaican immigrant, came here when you were 12, is that right?
– Yeah, that’s correct. I was born and raised my early years in Jamaica, first in Kingston, Jamaica, and then in a small town right outside Negro called Sheffield. That was my early years and then when I was 12, I moved to South Florida to a small town called Pahokee, which is where my father lived at the time.
– Wow, how did your father manage to immigrate? Was it a conscious decision on his part, was it driven by anything political?
– No, it was a really conscious decision based on work. My father wanted to pursue some upward mobility in life and one of the ways that he saw to do that was coming here and working in the states. He did work for several years. Eventually, he started his own small business which he still runs to this day in south Florida. So, at the age of 12, I moved here to the United States and I was living with my father and my stepmom and my siblings.
– Wow, and so how, you must have had a thick accent at the time, and was there any trouble fitting in when you first moved?
– Oh yeah, you know, we all know how kids can be.
– Oh yeah.
– Especially at that age. It was definitely rough, but I would say it was my brother and I would say, we adapted pretty quickly and you know, it just like any other child. I had fun growing up. I had my share of bumps and bruises and playground fights, but, all in all, I would say it was a fun time and I went to a school in Pawnee County, Oke High School, and then after that I went to college at Florida State University.
– Nice, Florida State. And when did you become interested in medicine, because, you know, kids are really resilient. The fact that you were able to immigrate and then adapt and even go through the little bit of drama, I’m sure, and, like you said, kids at that age are tough. ‘Cause I remember as a son of immigrants, it was enough, growing up in a rural town, you know, really it was a struggle and part of the reason I developed a sense of humor was to use it as a coping mechanism and a lubricant to keep myself safe. But by the time you got into college, you were probably pretty comfortable in your own skin and what made you start thinking about medicine?
– So, actually, I wanted to do medicine, specifically, I wanted to do cardiac surgery, probably, since the age of about six.
– I was very young, too young to even know what surgery was or what a heart surgeon was. But, ever since, I remember very clearly, it was a summer, I was watching this program, it was like a Discovery Channel program and it was talking about the heart and how the heart functions and its importance to the body. It was all about physiology of the heart. I was completely mesmerized and I remember telling myself that’s what I wanted to do. Now, I was a little kid, probably, about five or six and this was way before I even migrated to the U.S. and I always had the thought that that is what I wanted to do. And I think I’ve had that singular focus ever since then.
– Wow, so from age six and it was Discovery Channel that launched it?
– Yeah, I know. I literally blame my career choice on the Discovery Channel.
– That’s amazing, that is amazing, because I have to blame my parents for being models. So, whenever I’m feeling like, ah, why did I go into medicine, I’m always like mom and dad, you know, it’s therapy time, but for you, at least, you have a large corporate cable channel to nail it on. You know that’s interesting because it does get to the interesting influence that American media has internationally. So, you’re in Jamaica watching Discovery Channel and it transforms your life, in effect, because when you come to the U.S. then you go down this singular path, like you said, to achieve something that many doctors have trouble achieving which is cardio thoracic surgery proficiency. Have you ever really kind of thought about that and gone, wow, that’s interesting because the media played such a role later in your life in terms of harming your career? But it kind of launched your career as well?
– Yeah, that’s actually one of the ironic things about this whole situation. You know, I could say, in some respects, it came full circle but I would say from where I sit right now, making another turn about again, so.
– Awesome, awesome. Well, and we want to help with that because we want people to hear your story. You went to Ohio State for medical school?
– I did.
– How was– Nice, well, how was medical school for you? Did you enjoy it, did you find it to be a struggle? Were you prepared for it?
– So, one of the things about going through this whole process, you know, everyone who comes through this pathway, they’re really bright individuals and I think most of us would say that going through school and elementary school, high school, wasn’t that big of a deal and, in some respects, even college. We maybe had to work a little bit harder, but we still did well. But I think what we all notice is that the higher we went, the harder it became, the more we had to work to stand out and that was definitely my experience as well. I had to work even harder in med school and I did when I was in college. But I definitely enjoyed it. It was a fascinating journey. It really grabs your attention, holds on to it because you literally learn about the human body, how it functions and how to manipulate it. I mean it’s a fascinating world and I completely loved it. I knew I’d made the right decision. I knew I was on the correct path.
– Wow, wow, so listen to that kids. It’s hard work if you want to be a heart surgeon. You do have to put in your sweat equity. Well, one question I had for you is what was the first, do you remember the first time you saw a surgery?
– Actually, I do. So, one of the things about me is that I have, in some way or another been a part of medical community from a young age. So, I actually have a pretty significant hearing loss, which they first discovered when I was very young. I was having chronic ear infections, which is not unusual for a child, but there was something different about mine and, eventually, what they came to realize that I was suffering from significant hearing loss. And, at the time, they thought it was reversible. So, I actually had several surgeries before the age of seven to try to reverse the damage from the infection and subsequent hearing loss, to no avail. And, in the end, I was told it was likely nerve damage that would be permanent. I would just have to live with it.
– Yeah, so.
– Did you find that, so do you wear hearing aids or do you do any other augmentation?
– So, I learnt to adapt, but anyone who’s close to me, actually, after they’ve been around me for a while can realize that I actually have significant hearing loss.
– Yeah. But, at this point in my life, I actually am supposed to be wearing a hearing aid and, actually during the time when I was at Yale, I had another surgical procedure because a lot of time had passed from the time when I was young until then and technology and surgery had advanced quite a bit, so there was actually a surgical procedure that could help me and I did undergo that, but the results were not very good. And I decided not to proceed with any other interventions and that if I do anything I would hear, I would just wear a hearing aid. I have one, I just don’t wear it.
– Ah, gotcha, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s interesting because you seem to have no trouble hearing me over this Skype call and so it surprised me when you said that you had hearing loss and your adaptation is pretty good. So, in the OR with masks, unable to read lips and all that, you don’t seem to have any difficulty with the communication process.
– No, I don’t, actually. And those kind of close quarter communications are actually not a problem. But yeah, I’ve adapted to it and I’ve actually done both. I’ve worn my hearing aids in the OR and have not worn them and I do notice slight differences, but it doesn’t impede me in anyway.
– That’s awesome. So, there’s a hospitalist who follows our show who is fully deaf actually and had asked us for quite some time to get transcripts and captions for the show and he’s able to function perfectly well in the hospital. So, we’ve done shows on doctors and nurses with various sort of challenges they’ve had to overcome and so it’s interesting to hear that and it also gives encouragement to others who may be suffering with similar struggles. So, thanks for sharing that actually. So, then you finished Ohio State. You did your surgical training at Yale, was it?
– So, I took the traditional route to the cardiothoracic surgery. So, I finished med school and then I went through general surgery. That’s the traditional route into cardiac surgery, you go through a complete general surgery residency and then you would do a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery and, traditionally, it’s been two to three years and I stayed in my general surgery training at Ohio State and I also did two years of research, got a Master’s Degree during my general surgeon residency. So, I did a total of seven years in that program and then afterwards I applied to cardiothoracic fellowship and I ended up matching in cardiothoracic surgery at Yale.
– Got it, okay, so that’s surgical general residency then cardiothoracic fellowship and it was, by the way, you’re a total gunner. I just want you to know that. I mean, wow, get a master’s along the way and, you know, seven years of training. Gosh, makes me feel like my three years of internal medicine was kind of like, it’s a rounding error on your education, right? So, but now it was at Yale New Haven when you were doing your fellowship that the drama started. Could you kind of walk us through what happened?
– Yeah, so it’s an interesting story. So, there was a patient who came in for a surgical procedure, was gonna have a section of rib removed. And, during that procedure, there was an error, meaning that a section of the incorrect rib was removed. Now, the surgeon who made that error, once it was discovered, I mean he immediately took charge of the situation and talked to the patient once the patient was awake and he was communicating, talked to the patient, talked to the patient’s family, told the patient exactly what happened and from any objective standpoint, the surgeon handled it appropriately. So, it’s not uncommon that when an error occurs that there’s a lawsuit that follows, but what happened a year after that incident was a complete shock to me because there’s several things that were atypical about how it unfolded like, normally when a lawsuit is filed, you’re given a notice that a suit maybe filed against you or your institution and you actually have time to respond and maybe even negotiate. That didn’t appear to happen in this case. Now, as soon as the suit was filed, literally, within the same day, there was this media blitz where the attorney for the patient gave this television interview as well as an interview to newspapers and accused me of performing the erroneous surgery, personally accused me and then also accused me of initiating a vast cover up trying to hide what happened from the patient and said that I had lied, directly lied to the patient about what happened. I mean, it was a complete shock and it was, from my standpoint, it was nothing less than a full frontal attack and he named me personally and accused me of doing all those things and the words that he used to describe me were, let’s just say, they were far from flattering.
– Was this in a public forum like via the news or was this a deposition?
– No, a public forum, he actually gave an interview to the television station as well as to the local newspaper and the story, the television interview that he gave, I mean it went viral. They even posted my picture, took my profile picture from the Yale New Haven website and posted it with the news story where he was personally accusing me of all of these things, none of which were true.
– Wow, and so, nationally viral story, this lawyer is the lawyer for the patient, goes out and accuses you, not only of committing the error, which you didn’t but lying about it and covering it up.
– And trying to get other staff members involved in a cover up. I mean it was quite the story.
– Okay, so let me backtrack for a second here because I talked to a malpractice attorney about your case and what she told me was that it is not uncommon for certain litigators who are used to settling cases, in other words, they know their case isn’t going to go to trial, to go publicly and inflame sentiment, so that when they go into the settlement negotiations, they have a better leg to stand on and they cite litigator privilege in all of this and it’s unethical, but it’s done and it gives all the lawyers a bad name. Do you think that’s what was going on here with this particular attorney?
– So, I have to tell you, ever since the day that this first broke, I am asking myself, why, why did this happen? Why did this person do this? I don’t think I’ll ever know the answer, but it was always my suspicion that that had something to do with it. It was always my suspicion they’re trying to create a story that was publicly embarrassing to Yale, that would force them to either settle more quickly or settle more on their terms. I’ve always wondered if that had something to do with it because it made no legal sense for why they would go after me, the trainee, in such a personal matter, but the way the picture was painted is that Yale was an institution where trainees were basically allowed to run amok and do these kinds of things. And I have been up and down this issue so many times in my mind, like why would someone do something like this when it really would not help them professionally, it would not help their case legally, but what it did was cause a lot of public relations embarrassment.
– And that makes perfect sense and what this lawyer was telling me is this is one of the reasons she doesn’t do litigation anymore is that it’s just so filthy that way. And there are good lawyers who don’t do that, but then there are those who do and it sounds like you were a victim of that. So, here’s the interesting piece before we get to the punchline of that story. So, for a year or two, when they Googled your name, Ricardo Quarrie MD, these stories would come up.
– Yeah, so what happened, it started out with the local TV station, a local newspaper, but what happened is Yale is a big institution, not just in Connecticut, where it’s a stalwart, but in the nation and internationally, so when something like this happens in an institution like that, it’s quickly picked up and I mean this thing spread like wildfire. I mean before 48 hours, it was in all the major news outlets, CNN, Washington Post, New York Times. My name and that exact story, as he told it, was in every major news outlet and, for me personally, it was literally like watching everything I worked for going up in flames. That’s honestly how I felt. You know, you talked about me being a gunner, and spending all that time in school. You know, for me, I always thought that I was doing things the correct way. I was doing it right, putting in the work, putting the time in and I was literally watching it all go to ashes. I just couldn’t believe it.
– And I can’t imagine having no sense of control and all it takes is this lawyer to go to the press and the press just running with it and, like you said, everything that you’ve worked for is now at risk. Where was your program in this? How did they treat and support or not support you through this given that Yale’s name was being dragged into all this?
– So, the thing about it is, everyone was caught off guard because, like I mentioned, one of the things about this is that things did not unfold in the usual manner and, from the way I understand it, when the Yale lawyers were notified about the lawsuit, it was the same day that it went to the press. So, there was nothing typical, from my understanding, about how this case was handled and how the suit was brought. So, in a very short period of time, the only thing that you could find associated with my name was this news story and everything that came after that. Now, the other thing that is interesting about it, that I took note of, is that this story went into all the news outlets, but not a single, with the exception of one person, and that was Elizabeth Cohen from CNN, no one else from any major news outlet reached out to me to get the other side of the story.
– So, all those organizations they basically only reprinted the story as he told it, as that lawyer told it, and the only person who reached out to me for comment was a reporter from CNN. Now, because we were so caught off guard with everything that was happening, and, like I said, it unfolded so quickly, the lawyers from Yale and the lawyers provided by my insurance company, their response, of course, would be no comment because anything you say can immediately become a part of the suit. And that’s the typical reaction and so they were basically preparing for how to handle this, but while being completely caught off guard. with just how the approach was taken. It just didn’t seem typical.
– That is amazing and, you know, can I rant for a second? So, this actually feeds into something I’ve been talking about on the show lately and I want to keep the politics of this out of it because a lot of people yell fake news and there’s this big attack on the media right now by the administration, I don’t want to feed into that because I think a healthy, free, open press is key to democracy and it’s what really differentiates us from countries that do not have functioning democracy. However, the way that media is now incentivized is to get clicks, to make sensational headlines and not necessarily to tell the entire story. So, when CNN does a piece on Mayo Clinic recently, it’s completely a one-sided piece because Mayo does the professional thing and, basically, won’t say a lot, right, because I’m sure their lawyers and their PR people weren’t saying anything so you get one side of the story. When the other side comes out, you’re shocked and it takes other entities like podcasters and social media people to point out the mistakes. When I was a medical student I was involved, a guy high on cocaine ran a red light and actually hit me in San Francisco and, in the process, barreled into a couple of pedestrians, and actually killed one of them. And so, obviously, I was traumatized from this event. I wasn’t injured because I was driving a Volvo of all things and I go home that night and I watch the news and there’s an image of me sitting in the back of a police car and the news reporter going, this is the gentleman who ran the red light and killed this person.
– Oh my god.
– And can you imagine, and I’m a second year medical student, I am absolutely freak, I’m already traumatized. I’ve seen this person die in front of me. This other guy he drives off and then ditches his cocaine in an alley and then comes back. And so, what ends up happening is I end up calling the station and going, listen you guys, and this was the difference, in the ’90s, if you actually called up the station and said, you guys screwed up and you got to understand that I will destroy you reputationally if you let this stand, they actually that night went on and did a retraction, that night. And there wasn’t the Internet and there wasn’t all of that and even that was so stressful. Now, I can’t imagine, Dr Quarrie, what it must have been like for you when you’ve built your whole life pursuing this noble quest and this happens to you and then you’re muzzled because you can’t say anything and it’s all over the national news. So, I think the point is you cannot trust anything that you read without digging in more and we need to do a better job holding the press accountable and the government and everybody accountable. That’s what the press is supposed to do, but we’ve somehow fallen off the rails. So, I have a have a deep empathy for your case which is why when I heard about it, I did a show about it because I said we got to hear about this because in the two… So, was it a couple years before the truth came out? How long was it before this got righted?
– Well, it was about two years before the truth came out ’cause what happened in the meantime is they had to go through legal process. Since it’s a suit, there’s a process called discovery where they take depositions from all the party involved. They basically review every single record, every single piece of information that’s related to the case and they take sworn depositions under oath from everyone involved and it becomes a part of the legal record. Now, the interesting thing is, for the first few weeks, this was a news story. Once the news story died down, I don’t know if it’s because the attorney understood that I did not play the role that he thought I did or that he said I did, but the lawsuit against me was struck, very early in the process. But it was no longer a news story. But the problem is all those headlines, all those news stories remain. So, anyway, we go through this entire process of discovery which takes a little more than a year, so by October or so, by late 2017, we have all the documents and basically none of it corroborates anything that he said. You know, and what is revealed by all parties involved is that, is what I said earlier, that the physician made an error, he owned up to it right away, he spoke to the patient and her family. The patient, by her own admission, she said that she never spoke to me and, according to her and members of her family, I hadn’t been involved in that and no one really knows where the story of me and this cover up came from.
– Can I ask a question and I don’t think anyone knows the answer, but so the patient herself admitted that she had nothing to do, you had nothing to do with lying about anything.
– And she never even spoke to you?
– And this came out after the fact and, of course, during discovery and everything else, and it took a long time before the lawyer actually said something about this publicly, but do you think there was any sort of sense that this lawyer decided to pick, number one, a trainee, number two, somebody who’s an immigrant, who isn’t white, to use as a kind of a scapegoat or do you think that had nothing to do with it? Because it’s tough when you’re trying to publicly inflame passion, people know how to do that in this kind of way.
– Oh yeah. People absolutely do like to do that. And, like I said, it’s one of the many things I’ve thought about, why? You know, why would he pick me? Is it the fact that I’m black or is it the fact that I’m an immigrant to this country? I’ve thought about all of those things. I cannot say what his motivations are or what his motivations were at the time, why that lawyer did what he did. You know, I cannot say for sure, but I’ve definitely thought about all those scenarios because, again, it’s one of the things that has bothered me from the very beginning. Why would anyone do this?
– Yeah, and trying to find an explanation. So, two years later what happened? Fill us in.
– Once we had gone through discovery and all these statements were now a part of the court record, I decided that I needed to have a fighter in my camp because, in the media, I was this horrible doctor who, apparently, had no morals and horrible skills. But the thing was, at the time, I didn’t realize how badly it would affect me because, when this first happened in 2016, I’d already planned to do more advanced training, you know, after I did my CT Surgery Fellowship and I was always planning to come to the Cleveland Clinic to do some advanced training, but what happened is halfway through that process as I was applying for jobs, I noticed the first year, after I did that training, I was applying for jobs, I literally got no responses back. So, I thought it was just kind of a rough year in that the job market was probably just not very good. So, I decided to stay at Cleveland Clinic a second year. And the second year is when I started applying for jobs again and, this time, I would get responses back. I would get people who are interested and I would go on interviews, but then the replies back I would get really started to be another gut punch because what employers were telling me is that the resume looks good, you interviewed really well, they’d tell me all the time, we really liked having you, but you have very bad public relations baggage. Everything on the Internet about you, it’s about this case, and whatever the details are, it doesn’t matter what the details are, it’s the public perception. And people are not going to want to come to you as patients when they Google your name and see these things and doctors are not going to want to refer their patients to you for surgery of all things when they see this kind of stuff on the Internet.
– Oh my gosh.
– And it was at that point, because even until then I was still being somewhat optimistic that nothing really credible happened with this thing. Yeah, it was a horrible news story, but there is nothing legal that came out of it. It didn’t affect me professionally, I should still be able to move on and that was a very naive way of thinking. And the more and more I started getting those responses, I started going through the whole anger phase again. I really think I went through all five stages of depression multiple times throughout the last couple of years and I decided that I need to fight back in some way. And the first thing I did was to fight with and I started calling around trying to find out where can I get a good lawyer of my own. And I ended up talking to several people, but I finally settled on a very thoughtful attorney and that’s when I started going through the process of how can we tackle this and get this, you know, we have the documents. I can get my name cleared, how do we go about doing it?
– Wow, and so you started taking this into your own hands and saying, you know what, as hard as I have worked to build my career, I should work equally hard to protect my reputation after this completely unjustified assault on it.
– And the fact that it was costing you jobs and they were basically telling you in the interviews, it was clear what the etiology of your nonsuccess in the job market was.
– Correct. And it was a very trying time, but the other problem I had while I was dealing with that, is the entire thing about the Internet and that was another beast of its own.
– Tell me about that.
– And so, I was like how can I combat that? The only way to do, one, is try to get it off, which you’re not going to be able to do. Once it’s out there, you’re not going to be able to get it out and, two, would be to try to add other things. So, I started doing some research and learned more about online reputation, salvaging, defending. You know, there are several websites and companies that will help you do that and I signed up for one of those and there’s a free version where you do all the work yourself and then there’s the other version where you pay them and they do it for you. Now, I was trying to do it myself. So, for several months, I was actually still working my full time job at the Cleveland Clinic and then coming home and, at night, trying to work on building websites to promote positive things about me, to have more of a media presence, have more of an online presence and I mean I was working until like late in the night, any weekend, any time I could find, trying to do this and it was exhausting. Of course, I was getting nowhere. This is not my forte. I mean I know about surgery. I know nothing about websites and online applications. That’s just not me and it wasn’t working and it wasn’t going to work. So, I eventually had to hire a company and say, hey, I want you guys, there are all these negative stories about me, I want you guys to do what you can to combat this.
– And so, what did they do and did it work?
– So, this is one of the things that I learned from this whole thing. I learned several things from this whole experience. I would say the first lesson I’ve learnt is when you’ve worked this hard for anything in your life, you have got to defend it. And I don’t think I did enough when the story first broke to be aggressive about defending it. Granted, you know we still would have to go through the whole process and get all the court documents, but the other thing I learned is that you really have to have some kind of online presence in our profession. So, I’m a very low key kind of guy. I’ve always been that way and I actually had no social media. I never joined Facebook and I didn’t have anything like LinkedIn, Twitter, any of those things. I really had no online presence. So, as it was explained to me, one of the reasons why those stories spread, well, they spread because people like to read that kind of news, but they had staying power because they had nothing to combat it because I had no other online presence. So, what they started doing was building some online presence for me. So, now I have a bunch of different social websites, LinkedIn, Doximity. I actually have a Facebook page somewhere now. But I have all those things. I have a professional website and I have a blog site. So, they started building those websites and then they would try to generate traffic to those websites. Now, that’s supposed to take time before you see any effects and it was very, very slow because that did not generate that type of traffic. People like a good, juicy story, especially, if it has salacious details or scandalous details. They’re less inclined to see something, oh, that looks like a nice, professional site, let’s visit that. So, it didn’t generate the same kind of traffic.
– Here’s the story of a tremendous gunner who’s doing everything right, no one cares.
– It’s interesting because that is the advice, is grow your online presence, search engine optimization and those kind of things, what’s interesting, though, is I Googled you before the show to see what happened and the top hit now is a CNN article that I will link to in the description for this show that describes how you were wronged, what happened and it was by CNN which was one of the entities that actually was part of the wronging of you.
– Yeah, so what happened is once I got a good lawyer in my corner and we went about this and we talked extensively about how we wanted to go about this and what were the results that we wanted to see from my standpoint. I mean everybody outside of the story is like, oh, you should sue, you should get your money. It’s not what it was about for me. For me, one, I wanted the truth to come out and, two, I wanted my name cleared.
– Yeah, so money was not the issue, it was your reputation
– Money was not the issue. I wanted the truth to be out there. I wanted my name to be cleared. I wanted to move on with my life. I was tired of this being the defining story of my life. So, what I wanted to do was to really get that out there and the best way to do that would be to have the person who publicly accused me tell the truth in some way, shape or fashion. I was not naive in thinking that he was going to call another press conference and do another television interview and say, hey, the story I told a couple years ago is not true but, through much negotiation, none of it with me personally involved, I definitely let the lawyer handle that, eventually what they agreed to do was to do a retraction that he would write a formal letter of retraction detailing the things that he said that were wrong. And that’s where we got that statement and, for my part, I realize that damage that was done to me was all public relations in nature. So, I needed it to be a public relations fix. So, I remembered the reporter, the only reporter who ever reached out to me when this all first started, and I actually saved her information and when I reached out to her again and said, hey, I’d like you to know that this story was incorrect the first time and there is more to this story to be told, would you guys be interested in a follow up story and the answer was yes, once I explained to her what happened, they were very interested in doing it and that’s how we ended up with the CNN article.
– You know what, I’m looking at the site now. It’s Elizabeth Cohen was the reporter who did it, and the title was Surgeon Falsely Accused of Wrongdoing Tries to Recover His Name, and she cites Joel Faxon as the attorney in New Haven who made these accusations and, ultimately, printed the retraction. She is the same reporter who did the Mayo Clinic piece that I talked about. So, it’s interesting. She’s senior medical correspondent at CNN. So, you know at some point, I’d love to have her on the show and talk to her about how she tries to figure out what’s really going on because, with the Mayo thing, it’s still controversial what’s really going on there. So, I’m glad she was on your side in this one.
– Oh yeah. You know, it was good talking to her. It was great working with her. I liked the fact that she did try to get both sides of the story and even after I contacted her about this retraction to the story, you know she did talk to a lawyer again and try to get his side of the story. And so, I liked the thoughtfulness that she put in it and that’s the reason why I contacted her.
– I’m really glad to hear that because she’s gotten some criticism from the medical community lately for that Mayo piece and so it’d be interesting to get her side on that too. That’s very helpful. So, if you hadn’t taken the action of retaining an attorney, talking to these companies to try to recover your reputation, this outcome would never have happened. It still would have been the top search for your name that you had lied to a patient, been accused of lying to a patient and committing this error.
– Absolutely, absolutely.
– So, it speaks to the fact that you kind of said, you know what, I can’t just expect the world to do stuff for me. I have to get up and do it myself. What’s interesting about your story that resonated with me is it never, at any point, did it seem, you said, yeah, I always asked myself what was it that caused this to happen to me, but it doesn’t sound to me like you’re playing the victim here. You’re not just recessing into victimhood. You’re saying no, no, no, no, no, this won’t stand. Whatever the cause is, I’m going to go and do something about it like I’ve done at every stage of my career and I’m going to treat it with the same passion I put into my career and I think that’s a model for people who are suffering from injustice is to stand up and say no, no, no, no, uh-uh, I’m not going to regress into victimhood. I’m going to stand up and fight and not accept it and use the tools at my disposal and I’m hoping that this podcast that we’re doing now is another tool so that when we search engine optimize, it’s going to be CNN, number one, ZDoggMD Show, number two, and then all the lies.
– That sounds good to me. You’re absolutely right about that and that’s something I was very conscious of. I never wanted to be the victim. I was a part of this and I felt like I was being dragged through the mud, but I always said there has to be a time when I will be able to respond to this in some way. I didn’t know when that time was going to be, like I said, the process was very slow and I was not going to allow myself to be the victim.
– That’s fantastic, man, and I was going to say, now, with things kind of turning the corner, where do you see your career going and the overall trajectory of your life?
– So, you know, I can honestly say at this point, it’s easier to have more optimism than it’s been for a while now, but I think having the truth out there, now more of a balanced story about me out there, it’s going to be helpful because, as I explained before there was never anything wrong from a professional standpoint with my career. There was never anything wrong from a legal standpoint with my career. It was all public relations and this story has been, the CNN story has been very helpful, and an outpouring of support from people out there, particularly, people in the medical community or people who have come across me at some point in my life and my career, it’s been tremendous and it’s been a huge help.
– You know, oh go ahead, go ahead.
– That has definitely made the biggest difference.
– I want to say this, when these kind of stories come out and I decide to talk about them on my show, one of the reasons I will do that is people, members of the Z-Pac, the sort of tribe that we’ve created, will message me and they will say things like, I work with this surgeon, Ricardo Quarrie. He is an amazing surgeon. He has an amazing bedside manner. He treats his team with respect. This has happened to him. Would you consider talking about it? And that happened with several people in your case and that’s what creates the momentum for me to go, you know what, this is exactly the mission that we have, which is to kind of counteract the experience you had, which is no, well, you know what, it’s time to take the narrative back from the mainstream press exclusively, from the government, from big business, from the hospital systems, and say, you know what, we as frontline caregivers who’ve put our blood, sweat and tears into this, should have our own independent voice. And, if enough people kind of support you, then I know what the voice of the frontline practitioners are and so, in your case in particular, your support is so deep. People were unequivocally supportive of you that I said, you know, I’m going to reach out and see, and, in fact, it was one of the members of our tribe that had connected us. They said I know him, I can connect you. And so, it’s a testament to your professionalism, your skills, your interpersonal stuff, your bedside manner, that you had that much support and I think it’s a testament to our tribe that they’re willing to give people a voice when they’ve been wronged and I think we have to do that as much as we can. So, it’s really been an honor to be able to talk to you in person.
– I really appreciate it and I just want to take a moment to say thank you to everyone out there, everyone who shared the story, whose clicked on the link, whose forwarded it along, whose posted kind words. I mean, it has been amazing. I actually didn’t expect this level of support. But it has been absolutely amazing and that has actually been what has made the most difference.
– I love it, I love it. And I was going to say we’re going to write this up as a post as well and if there’s anything you want to contribute in terms of advice on how to manage reputation and fight, beyond what you’ve said in the show, any links, anything like that, feel free to send them to me and I’ll include them in the post. To the Z-Pac, I want to tell you guys, please share this every where you can. Subscribe to the podcast. Let people know because the higher we can rank this story and our web posting of it, the more likely it is when people search for Dr Ricardo Quarrie, they are going to see the right information pop at the top of their feed. So, you can be a part of the solutions, Z-PAC. Dr Quarrie, any parting words?
– No, I would just share, like I said earlier, whenever you work as hard for something, you fight for it. You fight to keep it and don’t let others write your online narrative for you. Establish your online presence and defend that as well. I definitely felt like I did not do enough earlier in this process but whenever something happens, you should never, never feel that you’re powerless. There are lots of information available. There’s lots of information out there and if you’re connected to the right people who can give you good advice, you can still come out fighting and, who knows, you can still come out on top.
– Fantastic advice, man. I’ve learned a lot from you and I think my listeners definitely have. So guys, again, it’s cardiothoracic surgeon, clinical associate at Cleveland Clinic, Dr Ricardo Quarrie. Fantastic human being, fantastic doctor, who’s been through an ordeal and he’s taught us a lot about how to protect our online reputation when we’re falsely accused in the brave new world of social media and the sensationalist press. Thank you, Dr Quarrie.
– Thank you so much.