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Former Patriots doctor involved in rift, MGH says

Dr. Thomas Gill was chief of sports medicine for seven years.

Jim Davis/Globe staff/file 2013

Dr. Thomas Gill was chief of sports medicine for seven years.

Dr. Thomas Gill, replaced as medical director of the New England Patriots this week, had been forced from his job as head of the Massachusetts General Hospital sports medicine division last year after a bitter turf war, according to an account filed in court recently by the hospital.

Gill “became a polarizing chief” in the sports medicine division, Mass. General said in a motion filed in US District Court, as he and a colleague engaged in “competition over patients, operating room time, and professional sports teams.’’

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The dispute with the fellow surgeon in 2011 and 2012 eventually led the hospital to remove Gill from his job as head of sports medicine in 2013, Mass. General said. Gill accused the unidentified colleague of stalking one female employee and touching and threatening another, and said the other surgeon “initiated a physical altercation” with him.

But in a differing account, also filed in court as part of a gender discrimination case against Mass. General, attorneys for the plaintiff charge that Gill was removed because he had advocated for the two women with hospital leaders. They said one of the women had asked Gill for help.

The Patriots announced Thursday that Gill had been replaced as the team’s medical director, indicating that it was because he was no longer chief of sports medicine at Mass. General. In a written statement, the Patriots said, “We have always had the chief of sports medicine at MGH serve as the team’s medical director and will continue to work with MGH to provide those services.’’

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The team’s statement did not explain why the announcement came months after the hospital removed Gill as head of sports medicine.

The hospital said in August that Dr. Matthew Provencher, who came to Mass. General in April 2013 from the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, would replace Gill as division chief. Provencher is now the Patriots’ medical director, the team’s statement said.

Gill, who had been chief of sports medicine for seven years and served as the Red Sox medical director from 2005 to 2011, declined to comment. He now has a busy private practice and still does surgery at Mass. General. The hospital still provides medical care to the Red Sox, as well as to the Bruins.

The hospital’s account of Gill’s removal and the plaintiff’s rebuttal were filed in the gender discrimination case, which went to trial Monday.

Dr. Nina Shervin, a former orthopedic surgery resident, was one of the few women in the orthopedics department, and she contends in her lawsuit that the hospital discriminated against her by placing her on probation and then, after she complained, by refusing to give her a permanent job. The hospital and physician leaders deny Shervin’s assertions and contend that her performance was subpar.

Last month, the defendants, which include Partners HealthCare System, the parent company of Mass. General, filed a motion in court to exclude certain testimony by Gill and others in the sports medicine department about “purported safety issues, harassment, and gender discrimination.’’

They argued that Gill’s allegations are the result of a turf war and are irrelevant, in part because they occurred several years after Shervin completed training at the hospital in 2009.

Shervin’s attorneys filed a response to this motion in which they contended that Gill’s support of the two women was his undoing. They said his testimony about his colleague would highlight the defendants’ “failure to address the treatment of women and retaliation in response to concerns raised.’’

US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper on Monday ruled in favor of the defendants.

The filings depict a sports medicine department in turmoil. The hospital’s motion said Gill accused the other surgeon of initiating “a physical altercation with him, which resulted in the MGH police being called. The other physician vehemently denied the charges and levied his own claims, resulting in an MGH investigation.’’

Gill, according to the hospital, said the other doctor made inappropriate statements to one of his female employees, including, “Boy, you look hot today.’’ The motion filed by Mass. General does not indicate whether the hospital found the allegations to be true or not.

Mass. General spokeswoman Peggy Slasman said Friday the hospital could not comment on the specific allegations Gill is said to have made in the court filings.

But the hospital said it “takes all allegations of harassment quite seriously.” It added: Any time such an accusation is made, we fully investigate the matter and take appropriate action, when needed.’’

As the Patriots’ medical director, Gill’s responsibilities included helping and diagnosing injured players on the field and performing surgery and overseeing rehabilitation at Mass. General.

“We greatly appreciate the many years of dedicated service and innovation that Dr. Gill provided our team and wish him well in the future,” the team’s statement said.

“We will continue to work with MGH Sports Medicine to provide our medical services and look forward to receiving the level of care and expertise that MGH has been providing the New England Patriots” since 1982.

Liz Kowalczyk can be reached at kowalczyk@globe.com.

 Correction: Because of inaccurate information supplied by the New England Patriots, an earlier version of this story misstated the duration of the relationship between the team and Massachusetts General Hospital. Mass. General has provided the team’s medical director since 1982. Before then, doctors from various hospitals, including Mass. General, provided medical care to the team.

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