Librarian says doctor called her drug abuser in medical records

By Chris Dickerson | Sep 9, 2015


WINFIELD – A Putnam County Schools employee says a doctor damaged her reputation by claiming she was a drug abuser in her medical records.

Amanda L. Byus filed her complaint Aug. 28 in Putnam Circuit Court against Dr. Fadi W. Alkhankan, University Physicians & Surgeons Inc. dba Marshall Health and up to 50 John Does who might be responsible in some way.

Byus, who lives in St. Albans in Kanawha County, says she has enjoyed “a stellar reputation, both generally and in her occupation as a Master’s prepared school librarian.”

In her complaint, Byus says Alkhankan published to (St. Mary’s Hospital) Pathologist Saroj Sigdel and by reference in her medical records that Byus was “supposedly exposed to chemical explosion at work place several years ago” and “has a questionable drug abuse (snorting) [sic].”

“There is nothing whatsoever in plaintiff’s medical record to suggest such an outrageous assertion nor has ever shown any signs or symptoms of drug use via snorting or otherwise and was never administered any diagnostic testing that showed any evidence whatsoever that she has ever used any illicit drug,” the complaint states. “The statements and publication made by Dr. Alkhankan are false and slanderous to plaintiff.”

The complaint says Byus was injured from inhalation exposure to a chemical substance while using a spill absorbent to clean oil residue from concrete, but it wasn’t a chemical explosion at work.

She says the medical record is libelous on its face.

“It clearly exposes plaintiff to misplaced scrutiny, mistrust, hatred, contempt and ridicule,” the complaint states. “The statements further hamper plaintiff’s diagnosis, treatment and prognosis for her serious health condition as evidenced in the July 17, 2015, report issued by Dr. Henry D. Tazelaar of the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, wherein Dr. Tazelaar directly relied upon the false statements initially made by Dr. Aklhankan.”

She says a similar incident occurred Aug. 21 when the statements were published to her pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

“The initial statements made by Dr. Alkhankan to Dr. Sigdel … not only poisoned the proverbial well” but “Alkhankan violated his duty of care.”

Byus says the “wholly and completely false” statement has caused irreparable harm to her reputation in the healthcare community, jeopardizes her employment status and availability of both health and life insurance policies to her.

“Upon learning of the defamatory and false statement, Plaintiff Amanda Byus was outraged and immediately took steps to arrange an appointment with Dr. Alkhankan to discuss, inter alia, his baseless, defamatory, libelous and slanderous statements,” the complaint states, adding that she “voluntarily agreed to submit herself to any form of testing whatsoever to prove that she is not a snorting drug abuser or a drug abuser of any form or fashion.

“Upon being confronted in person by Amanda Byus and with said reports containing Dr. Alkhankan’s own words in her hand, defendant Alkhankan blatantly denied making the false and outrageous statement to Dr. Sigdel and others and, in fact, demeaned her for questioning his false, extreme and outrageous statement.”

Byus says she has suffered loss of reputation, shame, mortification as well as severe and irreparable emotional distress. She seeks an order striking the false statements from her medical records, an order forcing Alkhankan to document accurate and truth medical information to all medical providers of Byus withdrawing his statement and an order requiring him to cease and desist further dissemination of the statement.

She seeks compensatory and punitive damages, interest, court costs, attorney fees and other relief.

Byus is being represented by Barbara L. Utt and Chadrick R. Porter of The Law Offices of Barbara Lynn Utt and The Porter Law Firm PLLC in Charleston. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Phillip Stowers.

Putnam Circuit Court case number: 15-C-211

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