Before we begin – attention medical students (and those who know them): Our colleagues at the Financial Residency podcast have partnered with an anonymous donor to supply ten medical students with $5,000 scholarships this Thanksgiving holiday. For details, visit their application page, linked here. Happy Thanksgiving!

And remember – Medical Justice provides free consultations to doctors facing medico-legal obstacles. We have solutions for doctor-patient conflicts, unwarranted demands for refunds, online defamation (patient review mischief), meritless litigation, and a gazillion other issues. We also provide counsel specific to COVID-19. If you are navigating a medico-legal obstacle, visit our booking page to schedule a free consultation – or use the tool shared below.

"Can Medical Justice solve my problem?" Click here to review recent consultations...

We’ve been protecting doctors from medico-legal threats since 2001. We’ve seen it all. Here’s a sample of typical recent consultation discussions…

  • Former employee stole patient list. Now a competitor…
  • Patient suing doctor in small claims court…
  • Just received board complaint…
  • Allegations of sexual harassment by employee…
  • Patient filed police complaint doctor inappropriately touched her…
  • DEA showed up to my office…
  • Patient “extorting” me. “Pay me or I’ll slam you online.”
  • My carrier wants me to settle. My case is fully defensible…
  • My patient is demanding an unwarranted refund…
  • How do I safely terminate doctor-patient relationship?
  • How to avoid reporting to Data Bank…
  • I want my day in court. But don’t want to risk my nest egg…
  • Hospital wants to fire me…
  • Sham peer review inappropriately limiting privileges…
  • Can I safely use stem cells in my practice?
  • Patient’s results are not what was expected…
  • Just received request for medical records from an attorney…
  • Just received notice of intent to sue…
  • Just received summons for meritless case…
  • Safely responding to negative online reviews…

We challenge you to supply us with a medico-legal obstacle we haven’t seen before. Know you are in good hands. Schedule your consultation below – or click here to visit our booking page.

 

Dr. Tom Weiner served as an oncologist in Helena, Montana since 1996. He worked at St. Peter’s Health. St. Peters has three other employed oncologists on staff.  

Montana is a big state. If a patient cannot get timely cancer care in Helena, they have to drive. And drive. And drive. 

A lawsuit states that Dr. Weiner was escorted from the facility. Shown the door. More on that shortly. St. Peters would neither confirm nor deny that Weiner was terminated or escorted from the building.  

St. Peters did release a statement that Dr. Weiner was on leave for private and confidential reasons.  

A local organizer hosted a community meeting to discuss questions about the good doctor’s absence and how St. Peters plans to move forward. Hospital administrators were invited to attend. They didn’t show up. They stated, “St. Peters is not legally allowed to provide more information.” 

This may have no bearing on the current kerfuffle: 

While St. Peter’s has provided no explanation for Weiner’s absence, the Independent Record reported in February 2016 that some nurses and patients feared that administrators were actively seeking to replace him because of his opposition to decisions made by the hospital board. At the time, then-President and CEO Nate Olson vehemently denied any push to remove or replace Weiner and said he and the board were happy with the Cancer Treatment Center. 

Not only is St. Peters mute on specifics. So is Dr. Weiner. And apparently, he had not seen patients for several weeks. 

“The circumstances that led to Dr. Weiner’s absence are ongoing and remain a confidential matter,” Johnson said in Tuesday’s statement. “However, in the weeks following his departure, information has come to light that requires us to make some difficult decisions in the Cancer Treatment Center. Effective today, Dr. Tom Weiner is no longer employed by St. Peter’s Health and will not care for patients in our Cancer Treatment Center.” 

Now for the lawsuit.  

John Doubek of Doubek, Pyfer & Storrar in Helena filed a lawsuit against St. Peter’s Health over Weiner’s unexplained absence. 

The suit filed in Lewis and Clark County District Court alleges that in late October, Weiner was abruptly terminated/removed from his position as the treating oncologist and escorted from the building. The suit goes on to allege that this has presented undue stress to Weiner’s patients and that the hospital has failed to fulfill its duty to patients. 

This lawsuit is a class-action. At least 96 patients have expressed interest in becoming plaintiffs. The suit states that the plaintiffs and class reserve the right to seek punitive damages from a jury.  

“Three board-certified oncologists are closely evaluating each patient’s care to ensure they are receiving the most effective treatments,” St. Peter’s wrote in a Nov. 16 statement addressing the matter. “While patients with the most urgent needs are being given priority, all patients will soon receive appointments for these evaluations.” 

The hospital appears caught is the middle of a patient safety/abandonment problem and an employment law matter. And Montana is one of the few states in the country where employment is not at-will.  

Montana is one of the only states whose law allows for employees to have an extra-layer of protection. In other states employers can fire an un-contracted at-will employee at any time and for any legal reason. In Montana work at-will laws only apply during a probation period that is a standard six months unless otherwise established at the time of employment. Upon conclusion of the probationary period Montana employers must have valid cause in order to terminate one’s employment.  

 At-will also allows for employers to adjust the terms of employment with employees at any time for any reason without legal consequences. The employer may alter benefits, reduce time-off or change wage arrangements without consent of the employee.  

 As previously stated, however, Montana is not an at-will state.  

The class action suggests that patients with cancer are being left high and dry. Whether that is true will depend upon whether the remaining 3 oncologists are able to fill the gap. The hospital is actively recruiting for another oncologist.  

If you are a W2 employee of a hospital, the hospital has primary responsibility for maintaining continuity of care. It cannot abandon the patients. The employee physician may have contractual obligations to the hospital that cannot be shrugged off. But here, the hospital is the primary entity on the hook, as reflected in the evolving litigation.  

A hospital has an obligation to keep its patients safe. There may very well be good reasons why Dr. Weiner and St. Peters parted ways. The absence of a good explanation irritated many patients. Once the class action train leaves the station, there is no caboose. 

What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Medical Justice provides free consultations to doctors facing medico-legal obstacles. We have solutions for doctor-patient conflicts, unwarranted demands for refunds, online defamation (patient review mischief), meritless litigation, and a gazillion other issues. We also provide counsel specific to COVID-19. If you are navigating a medico-legal obstacle, visit our booking page to schedule a free consultation – or use the tool shared below.

"Can Medical Justice solve my problem?" Click here to review recent consultations...

We’ve been protecting doctors from medico-legal threats since 2001. We’ve seen it all. Here’s a sample of typical recent consultation discussions…

  • Former employee stole patient list. Now a competitor…
  • Patient suing doctor in small claims court…
  • Just received board complaint…
  • Allegations of sexual harassment by employee…
  • Patient filed police complaint doctor inappropriately touched her…
  • DEA showed up to my office…
  • Patient “extorting” me. “Pay me or I’ll slam you online.”
  • My carrier wants me to settle. My case is fully defensible…
  • My patient is demanding an unwarranted refund…
  • How do I safely terminate doctor-patient relationship?
  • How to avoid reporting to Data Bank…
  • I want my day in court. But don’t want to risk my nest egg…
  • Hospital wants to fire me…
  • Sham peer review inappropriately limiting privileges…
  • Can I safely use stem cells in my practice?
  • Patient’s results are not what was expected…
  • Just received request for medical records from an attorney…
  • Just received notice of intent to sue…
  • Just received summons for meritless case…
  • Safely responding to negative online reviews…

We challenge you to supply us with a medico-legal obstacle we haven’t seen before. Know you are in good hands. Schedule your consultation below – or click here to visit our booking page.

 

Learn how Medical Justice can protect you from medico-legal mayhem… 

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Medical Justice Founder and CEO, Jeff Segal, MD, JD, provides consultations to doctors in need of guidance. 

Meet the Experts Driving Medical Justice

Our Executive Team walks with our member doctors until their medico-legal obstacles are resolved - we've seen it all.

Jeffrey Segal, MD, JD

Chief Executive Officer and Founder

Dr. Jeffrey Segal, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Medical Justice, is a board-certified neurosurgeon. Dr. Segal is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons; the American College of Legal Medicine; and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. He is also a member of the North American Spine Society. In the process of conceiving, funding, developing, and growing Medical Justice, Dr. Segal has established himself as one of the country’s leading authorities on medical malpractice issues, counterclaims, and internet-based assaults on reputation.

Dr. Segal was a practicing neurosurgeon for approximately ten years, during which time he also played an active role as a participant on various state-sanctioned medical review panels designed to decrease the incidence of meritless medical malpractice cases.

Dr. Segal holds a M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine, where he also completed a neurosurgical residency. Dr. Segal served as a Spinal Surgery Fellow at The University of South Florida Medical School. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa as well as the AOA Medical Honor Society. Dr. Segal received his B.A. from the University of Texas and graduated with a J.D. from Concord Law School with highest honors.

In 2000, he co-founded and served as CEO of DarPharma, Inc, a biotechnology company in Chapel Hill, NC, focused on the discovery and development of first-of-class pharmaceuticals for neuropsychiatric disorders.

Dr. Segal is also a partner at Byrd Adatto, a national business and health care law firm. With over 50 combined years of experience in serving doctors, dentists, and other providers, Byrd Adatto has a national pedigree to address most legal issues that arise in the business and practice of medicine.