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Doctor's defamation claim against employer is dismissed

Intercare Community Health Network of Van Buren County hired a family practitioner, Dr. Frengell, M.D., tp staff its community clinic in 2003.  In 2006, she was criticized for her care of a hepatitis C patient and the the director of the clinic initiated a file review of her patients.  In 2007, it concluded that she prescribed too many controlled substances to a particular patient--and perhaps to others--and fired her.  It also reported her to the National Practitioner Data Bank.  She sued, claiming defamation.  One year after filing it, InterCare "voided" its report to the data bank. 

The doctor argued that by the wording of its correspondence, the employer falsely implied that its Peer Review committee had agreed with its determination that the doctor "prescribed excessive narcotics in violation of the standard of care."  She also objected to the lack of due process provided to her in the peer review process, as she was not allowed to participate or respond to the review.  After a bench trial, the court found that Frengell had failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that InterCare's statement to the data bank was "false."  The Court of Appeals upheld the "involuntary dismissal" of her claim, rejecting her argument that a defamation claim could be founded on the wording of the original report.
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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