GOLD BEACH andndash; Dr. Maciey Druzdzel, who was recently removed from the Emergency Room staff at Curry General Hospital, has filed a lawsuit against the former CEO of the hospital, the current CEO, another doctor and Curry Health Network seeking $1,750,000 damages for alleged slander.
The lawsuit, filed by Druzdzel's attorney Nathan Garcia, names William McMillan, who recently left as CEO of the Curry Hospital District, current CEO Tom Troy, and Dr. Luther Ward, a surgeon, as well as the health network.
Troy and Ward did not return calls left on their office telephones and McMillan did not return a call left on his cell phone on Tuesday afternoon seeking comment.
"On or about June, 2011 McMillan signed a contract with EmCare for EmCare to provide Emergency Room services for Hospital," the lawsuit says.
EmCare is a national emergency care management company.
"Druzdzel strongly disagreed with this decision and opposed the outsourcing of Emergency Room work to EmCare doctors. McMillan was aware of Druzdzel's opposition to the EmCare contract," the suit says.
Since EmCare took charge of the Emergency Room, patient survey response to the treatment they received there has greatly improved.
"At a board of directors meeting on 12/29/11, McMillan recruited Ward (as an agent of Hospital) to tell the board that Druzdzel was incompetent in endotracheal intubation and central venous access. Ward made these statements even though he had no knowledge of Druzdzel's skills in that area and he had never witnessed Druzdzel perform those procedures.
Druzdzel has worked proficiently as an anesthesiologist and is board certified in anesthesiology. Endotracheal intubation is the basic skill in anesthesiology," the suit says.
The suit says that from June 2011 through June 2012, McMillan made numerous false and defamatory statements to hospital board members and to EmCare regarding Druzdzel's lack of requisite skill and qualifications to serve as an emergency room physician.
"When McMillan learned in June 2012 that hospital likely wasn't going to renew his contract as CEO, he made public statements regarding Druzdzel's medical competency," the suit said. "He made the following public statements:
"We (Hospital) brought in a consultant who told the board that ... Druzdzel, and (Mike) O'Gara weren't doing us any favors."
- "We brought in another consultant group that were even stronger in their opinion that Druzdzel and O'Gara should not be practicing in the ER."
- "EmCare was equally emphatic that these doctors should not be staffing the ER."
- "If something happens (in the ER), we don't have a defense."
The suit quoted McMillan as saying audits have uncovered so much documentation and post-billing issues that he is concerned that Medicare will do an audit.
The lawsuit said those statements were made by McMillan to the Curry County Reporter and were widely read by the general public.
The suit said that prior to making those statements, McMillan had been working to phase out Druzdzel's emergency room coverage with the hospital. However, "Druzdzel had received approximately the same emergency room coverages as the other doctors. Shortly after the statements, Druzdzel learned he would soon stop receiving any emergency room coverage altogether."
The lawsuit says that Troy, while serving as interim CEO of the District, made statements to the Curry County Reporter that were widely read, stating of Druzdzel and O'Gara,"We told these two doctors that if they wanted to be considered for employment in the Emergency Department, they needed to get board certified. One of the two doctors said he wouldn't do it and wasn't interested. The other doctors said he didn't feel he could pass the exam."
The lawsuit said the truth is that Druzdzel worked for four years in Poland as an anesthesiologist before coming to the United States in 1988.
"Endotracheal intubation is the basic skill of an anesthesiologist and Druzdzel is proficient in this skill. Druzdzel has worked for the Hospital Emergency Room for 18 years. He is licensed by the Oregon Medical Board and is a skilled and highly experienced physician. Druzdzel has all of the necessary licensing, education, training and experience to practice as an Emergency Room physician," it said
When EmCare, took over the day-to-day operations of the Curry General emergency room, they reduced the number of days O'Gara and Druzdzel would be working in the ER. As of August 2, they are no longer scheduled for any days.
McMillan had told the board then that EmCare's objections over Druzdzel and O'Gara were that neither of them was board certified in emergency medicine, that Druzdzel had been reprimanded by the Oregon Medical Board for over-prescribing pain medication; that O'Gara had lost his license in obstetrics; that Druzdzel had recently settled a medical malpractice case where his performance (or nonperformance) in the ER was at issue; and that EmCare's insurance company wouldn't insure the two doctors.
Douglas Webster, executive vice president of EmCare, on July 30 appointed Dr. Michael Harding of Roseburg as the new interim medical director for the Emergency Department, effective September 1.
Harding is a graduate of the Oregon Health Sciences University and is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine.