Indiana physician accused of being intoxicated on job wins $4.75M defamation suit

An Indiana physician was awarded $4.75 million in a lawsuit that alleged Ascension's St. Vincent Carmel (Ind.) Hospital and its medical group wrongly accused her of being under the influence of alcohol while on the job, according to Medscape. 

Rebecca Denman, MD, an OB-GYN at St. Vincent, sued the hospital after it took action following a nurse practitioner's claim that Dr. Denman smelled of alcohol while on duty Dec. 11, 2017. 

Under hospital policy, if a physician is suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, he or she must be relieved of duty immediately and requested to submit to blood testing at a different facility. 

Dr. Denman was not tested for alcohol on Dec. 11, 2017, according to the suit, which also says the NP's claim was unproven.

When confronted on Dec. 13, 2017 about consumption of alcohol, Dr. Denman denied the allegation and asked why the protocol wasn't followed.

St. Vincent reviewed the allegation and forwarded it  to the St. Vincent Medical Group for further review.

The medical group told Dr. Denman that she was suspended with partial pay until she underwent an evaluation for alcohol abuse at the Indiana State Medical Association. She was  required to sign a five-year monitoring contract as a condition to remain employed.

Dr. Denman claims the repercussions from the false allegations resulted in a loss of compensation, emotional distress and damage to her professional reputation. 

She still is part of the medical group, according to the report. 

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