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Research buildings of Penn Medicine on April 14. Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

A Philadelphia judge denied two emergency motions filed by Penn Medicine in response to TikTok videos about understaffing at a University hospital.

The motions for protective orders were against TikToks titled, “Medicine has Become a Money Machine” and “Can Someone with No Medical Training Look at Your X - Ray?”. The videos were posted by personal injury attorney Thomas Bosworth seeking to hold the hospital accountable for the 2019 death of a man — his client — because of a dissecting aortic aneurysm. Bosworth initiated the corresponding lawsuit because the radiologist involved misinterpreted the scan that demonstrated concerns with the patient’s aorta, while also failing to report the abnormal results. 

Penn Med attempted to stop Bosworth from publicly commenting about the hospital’s malpractice through TikToks or Instagram posts and from directing and encouraging third parties from speaking about the case, according to court documents.

"It was just inconceivable to me in light of how much money Penn has that they have such a horrendous problem," Bosworth told the DP.

The hospital argued that the TikToks violated Pennsylvania Rule for Professional Conduct 3.6, which states that there is a “basic general prohibition against a lawyer's making statements that the lawyers knows or should know will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding.”

“What [Penn Med is] asking you to do in ordering the removal of a social media post about a matter of grave public importance, which nobody could reasonably argue that this is not a matter of grave public importance," Bosworth said at the hearing.

In one TikTok, Bosworth quoted Penn Med radiologists that he spoke to 10 days before his client died, who said that the department is “massively understaffed” and “chronically behind the curve with resultant shortage of readers” and that the X-Ray was not taken until five hours after it was ordered.

"I did that exact video, and the hospital lawyers almost immediately caught wind of it and freaked out and filed these emergency motions," Bosworth said. 

In the second TikTok, Bosworth alleged that the X-rays at Penn Med are read by someone “who doesn’t go to medical school, isn’t a nurse, isn’t a nurse practitioner, and has no medical training whatsoever,” but rather they are read by radiology technicians. 

Bosworth then alleged that this practice was employed “for revenue purposes, because they discovered that more techs can read X-Rays faster than the radiologists, and they can make more money doing it.”

During a May 2022 deposition, one of the radiologists said that the radiology department was understaffed and that “it’s a chronic problem that has gone on for many years.” The same radiologist said that he has often been required – on his own – to view “around a quarter of a million radiologic images per day.”

Unrelated to his TikToks, last September, Bosworth also succeeded in gaining a $19.6 million jury verdict against Penn Med for failing to diagnose an arteriovenous malformation – a spinal mass in one of the patient’s back – the largest malpractice verdict in Pennsylvania of 2022.

"Penn is the most prestigious institution in Pennsylvania — one of the most [prestigious] in the world — and one of the most well endowed, and the whole thing just didn't make any sense to me," Bosworth said of Penn Med's response to his videos.