UK reaches settlement with former surgeon

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The University of Kentucky will pay out more than $1 million to a former surgeon who was the head of the Kentucky Children's Hospital heart surgery program.

The settlement comes after UK Healthcare came under fire, accused of hiding information about deaths involving pediatric heart surgeries.

Details of the settlement between Dr. Mark Plunkett and UK Healthcare were obtained by our partners at the Herald-Leader.

It says UK will pay Plunkett a lump sum of just more than $1 million, the first $650,000 is to be given to Plunkett within ten days.

The agreement also gives him salary supplements for two years to make up the difference between his former salary of $700,000 and whatever future job he takes.

He resigned from UK in July to take a job at the University of Florida, after UK put the pediatric heart surgery program on hold, following parents concern over mortality rates.

Since then, the University of Florida announced it decided to part ways with Dr. Plunkett.

In his agreement with UK, Dr. Plunkett agrees to, "exercise diligence and good faith," in finding a new job. It says if Dr. Plunkett is unemployed, UK will pay him $350,000 a year.

The agreement goes on to say Dr. Plunkett cannot sue UK, and mus cooperate with UK in any lawsuits or investigations in which he may be a witness.

After first fighting to keep mortality rates of pediatric heart surgery program private, UK did release the statistics in August.

The mortality rates at UK averaged 5.8 percent, with the University says is comparable to the national average of 5.3 percent for programs of similar size.

An attorney for UK says there have been no lawsuits or settlements related to any of Dr. Plunkett's patients.

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