UPMC gets attention for lucrative, questionable liver transplants

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has been getting a lot of attention lately, most recently for its CEO's nearly $4 million annual pay. Now critics are questioning the medical practices involved in its bid to become the king of liver transplants, once again.

Twenty years ago UPMC dominated the liver transplant industry, primarily because they had hired the first surgeon to successfully transplant a liver. But then other hospitals began performing the procedure, and UPMC's numbers dropped.

So in 2002, UPMC hired Dr. Amadeo Marcos, with his own promise that he would double the number of liver transplants he did. He did, in part by resorting to practices that some found questionable, like using livers from older donors and doing partial liver transplants from living donors.

While UPMC claims that they did not hire Dr. Marcos for their bottom line, there's no denying that their bottom line didn't suffer while he was there. Not only did their CEO earn $4 million in fiscal 2007, but 13 other employees earned between $1 million and $2 million. They also relocated their headquarters to Pittsburgh's tallest skyscraper.

To learn more about UPMC's lucrative liver transplant program:
- read this Wall Street Journal piece