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The Boston Globe



Sex-bias case has lessons for the medical profession

THERE IS little doubt that Dr. Josef Fischer was a top-notch surgeon. He helped transform a city-owned indigent-care hospital in Cincinnati into an academic medical center. He expanded a 10-member surgery department at the University of Cincinnati into a top training site, with a faculty of more than 60. He made such a mark that there is still an award in his name “for excellence in patient care, attention to detail, and intellectual curiosity in the pursuit of clinical and scientific knowledge.”

But it is also clear that Fischer had an abrasive personality. Even his greatest admirers describe him as difficult. He was known for pushing out colleagues he didn’t like. Over his 23-year career in Cincinnati, he was named in lawsuits alleging age discrimination, filed by a 60-year-old director of the Division of Neurosurgery; disability discrimination, filed by the executive director of an organ transplant center who took leave for a mental illness; and sex discrimination, filed by a female dental assistant who accused a dentist working under Fischer of harassing her and retaliating against her when she complained. (Only one suit — the sex discrimination case — prevailed.)

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