Health System Responds to Lawsuit That Alleges Wrongful Termination of Doctor

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Last month, health system Mercy Springfield and its president, Alan Scarrow, denied allegations in federal court that they unlawfully terminated a doctor after he raised concerns about inappropriate treatment and billing.

The Springfield News-Leader in Missouri reports that in May, Dr. Viran Roger Holden was terminated from his job as a medical oncologist at Mercy Springfield due to concerns of inappropriate behavior of his own, especially involving relationships with fellow employees. Dr. Holden maintains, however, that the real reason for his firing was his attempt at “whistleblowing” to both the hospital’s lawyers as well as to members of the Missouri Board of Registration for the Healing Arts.

Dr. Holden filed the lawsuit soon after he was fired, saying he was convinced that it had to do with his complaints against two doctors who “were billing for medically unnecessary services and/or performing inappropriate treatment.”

In their responses, Mercy Springfield and Scarrow adamantly denied the accusations, including Dr. Holden’s claim that he had even talked to the hospital’s lawyers. Rather, his termination was due to two relationships he had with other employees, something that he himself admitted to during a meeting with hospital administrators in March.

In addition, Dr. Holden was accused of unlawfully writing prescriptions for narcotics in 2012, something that he argued was appropriate during the same meeting.

What makes the lawsuit particularly tricky is that Dr. Holden himself admits to the affairs in court documents. However, he denied that his termination was, in Mercy Springfield’s own term, “for cause,” arguing instead that it came about only when he started bringing up the arbitrary treatments.

Scarrow and Mercy Springfield’s court responses maintain that the doctor admitted “to the majority of the allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation levied against him by the employees” during the March meeting and that he “engaged in for ’cause’ terminable events and that Mercy took the necessary and appropriate steps and actions to make the for ’cause’ determination.”

The case, despite taking place in a medical setting, is a wrongful termination lawsuit in nature. Employee lawsuits have grown by 400% since 1995.

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