Indiana physician wins $3.7M in suit against health system 

John Farmer, MD, has been awarded $3.7 million after finding Baptist Health Madisonville (Ky.), the family medicine resident's former employer, violated terms of his contract and interfered with his business relationships, according to The Indiana Lawyer.

Dr. Farmer was in his third year of his residency program when he was accused of being "on something." A patient’s mother reported in November 2019 that she felt Dr. Farmer was "touching his nose a lot and constantly moving from side to side."

The residency director spoke with two supervising physicians who confirmed that Dr. Farmer was not impaired by alcohol or drugs, but the director called a meeting with Baptist Health Madisonville and Baptist Health Medical Group to decide his faith. 

According to Baptist Health's policies, the accused physician should be spoken to and assessed for possible impairment. Then, if there is a reasonable suspicion of impairment, the accused physician should be immediately tested for drugs and alcohol.

The complaint alleges that Dr. Farmer was not told about the allegations until the next morning, when leadership had already agreed to require him to go for evaluation, and he was placed on a leave of absence. 

Dr. Farmer signed an order that prohibited him from practicing medicine until the Kentucky Physicians Health Foundation approved him to do so. He was evaluated in December 2019, and then he signed a contract that included a two-year agreement to abstain from drugs and alcohol in addition to regular testing, monitoring and therapy.

He completed his residency in September 2020 and sued Baptist in January for alleged breach of contract and interference with business activities. The jury awarded Dr. Farmer about $236,000 for breach of contract damages, including $170,000 for lost wages, and $3.5 million for humiliation, mental and emotional distress. 

"Baptist Health followed its medical staff policies, and appropriately responded to concerns raised about Dr. Farmer's well-being and behavior on the date in question," a spokesperson for the health system told Becker's. "We are evaluating our post-verdict options, as we believe the facts as they occurred do not support the verdict. Our primary focus remains providing high-quality care to our patients and families."

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