ER doctor sues psychiatrist over misdiagnosis

January 5, 2014

An emergency room doctor in Coos Bay is suing a Eugene psychiatrist for more than $2 million over an alleged misdiagnosis that required the doctor to temporarily withdraw from practicing medicine.

The lawsuit filed by Dr. Susan Haney in Lane County Circuit Court accuses Dr. Howard Sampley of mistaking the side effects of a medication for a mental disorder and then reporting Haney to the state Medical Board. The board opened an investigation, and Haney agreed to withdraw from her medical practice while that took place.

Four months later, Haney was reinstated with no restrictions. She continues to practice medicine.

The suit seeks $2.25 million in damages. It asks for $1.5 million for lost income and $750,000 for pain and suffering.

A spokeswoman for PeaceHealth Medical Group, which employs Sampley, said the organization cannot comment on pending litigation.

According to the suit, Haney went to the emergency room at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center, University District, in Eugene in December 2011 because of increasing asthma problems and increasing pain from a burn on her leg. It said she also showed symptoms of psychosis.

She was discharged about two weeks later with a diagnosis of psychosis and bipolar disorder. A short time later, the suit claims, Sampley notified the state Medical Board that Haney was bipolar, manic, mentally incompetent and a danger to herself and others, and should not be practicing medicine.

But Haney claims that her symptoms were brought on by prescribed medication used to treat her asthma and the fact that she was pregnant and had received fertility treatment. The suit says she is not bipolar, does not have a mental disorder, is mentally competent and is not a danger to herself or anyone else.

The suit claims Sampley was negligent for misdiagnosing Haney and for not telling the Medical Board that her symptoms could have been caused by her medication rather than a mental disorder. As a result, the suit claims Haney has lost and will continue to lose income and suffers from emotional distress and ongoing interference with her usual activities.

No trial date has been set.

Source: Greg Bolt. "ER Doctor Sues Psychiatrist," The Register Guard, December 30, 2013.


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