The university did not report him to the California Medical Board during that period, a USC source confirmed.
One colleague told of witnessing a boozy Dr. Carmen Puliafito reeling and shouting at a university dinner. Another said Puliafito appeared drunk at an off-campus gathering as he spilled into his car and drove away.
Then there was a Keck medical conference, a researcher who attended recalled, in which the dean seemed inebriated when he fell asleep in his chair.
Complaints of Puliafito’s drinking began to reach USC administrators more than five years ago. Then in 2016, and again last March, the university received information that Puliafito was in a hotel room with a young woman who suffered a drug overdose.
But USC allowed Puliafito to remain at the Keck school, where the renowned eye surgeon continued to treat patients. The university did not report him to the California Medical Board during that period, a USC source confirmed. The board routinely suspends physicians from patient care if they are suspected of being impaired by alcohol or drugs.
The medical profession’s principles of care state that supervisors and others in hospitals and clinics have a responsibility to act promptly to remove from practice doctors showing any signs of alcohol or drug abuse. That did not happen with Puliafito.