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Suit says hospitals erred in suspending ER doctor

Union Leader Correspondent

August 13. 2018 11:27PM
The physician's group that provides emergency room services to Lakes Region General Hospital and Franklin Regional Hospital has filed a lawsuit claiming breach of contract. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

LACONIA — A lawsuit brought against LRGHealthcare claims a physician was barred from working in Franklin Regional Hospital emergency room after he reported that a drug-impaired patient he was treating was a vendor providing transport for the hospital.

LRGHealthcare, parent company of Lakes Region General Hospital and the Franklin Regional Hospital contracts with Central New Hampshire ER Associates to provide physician services at both health care facilities.

Attorney Jason Major of Backus, Meyer & Branch of Manchester, alleges that LRGHealthcare violated the provisions of its contract with Central New Hampshire ER Associates when it terminated Dr. David Strang’s services “following his taking an action to protect the public, which the hospital’s own general counsel had approved and requested.”

According to the complaint filed July 30, Dr. Strang was working in the emergency room at the Franklin hospital in the spring of 2015, when a patient came in showing signs of drug intoxication and impairment.

“Dr. Strang learned that the patient was an employee of a vendor to LRGHealthcare, which provided transport services for other Lakes Region patients.

He also learned that the patient was living at the vendor’s barracks,” the suit alleges.

The physician became “gravely concerned” the patient would pose a public safety hazard if allowed to drive himself or other patients.

Dr. Strang paged the hospital administrator on duty for more than an hour seeking her advice, but got no response.

He then contacted the chief financial officer who referred him to the hospital’s counsel, Michael Jean.

The suit claims that Jean requested Dr. Strang to contact the patient’s employer to satisfy the hospital’s “duty to warn.”

The physician then called the patient’s employer and asked the supervisor on duty to come to the hospital to pick up his impaired employee.

“No confidential information was divulged,” the suit says. The employer’s supervisor arrived at the hospital and the patient disclosed his drug use, according to the suit.

The supervisor dismissed him from duty and told him to remove his belongings from the barracks.

Several days later, the suit charges that Dr. Strang received “hostile-toned” emails from Marge Kerns, vice president of clinical services at LRGH, allegedly complaining about the way the doctor handled the situation with a vendor’s employee.

The hospital thereafter took Dr. Strang off the emergency room schedule and barred him from working shifts at Franklin Regional Hospital, the suit claims.

The suit states that Central Associates has been harmed financially as has Strang, since he received a percentage of the income Central received through its billing of LRGH for his services.

“Dr. Strang did not, and was never accused of, committing any act that would justify immediate suspension or termination under LRGH’s contract with Central,” the suit asserts.

According to the suit, the contract provides that the hospitals give notice of dissatisfaction of physician services to Central, and may request removal of that doctor if after 60 days’ notice the hospitals remain unsatisfied with the medical services.

The plaintiff must serve LRGHealthcare notice of the lawsuit by Sept. 13.

The defendant has 30 days from that time to respond.

Courts Public Safety Health Laconia

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