A 34-year-old Fort Worth woman says she was subjected to inappropriate conduct by an emergency room doctor during an exam at Plaza Medical Center in Fort Worth, and the hospital has sent her a letter expressing regrets for her experience.
"I think it's very unfortunate, obviously," Plaza CEO Clay Franklin said. "We're investigating this as inappropriate communication from a physician to a patient."
However, an attorney for the doctor's physicians' group, which provides emergency room doctors for the hospital, disputed the woman's account, though the attorney said she could not discuss the case because of federal patient privacy laws.
Brandy MCclain said she went to Plaza's emergency room on June 9. MCclain, who is disabled, suffers from a condition in which blood appears in her stool.
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When she discharged more blood than normal, her doctor told her to go to the hospital for a rectal exam.
In the exam room, she said the doctor made several inappropriate comments, including asking her which finger she wanted him to insert during the exam.
"I kind of looked at him [and said], 'Don't go there.'"
She said he next walked out of the room to get some lubricant, and made another inappropriate remark when he returned, referring to a part of his anatomy. She said the doctor's examination went longer than any she's experienced and that he put his hands on her buttocks for a prolonged period of time.
Her friend, Jacquelynne Mason, was in the exam room for the duration of the procedure and said she heard the comments the doctor made. She also said, "As he's doing his rectal exam, he sits there and looks at me and says, 'You're next.' And I said, 'No I don't think so, sir.'"
After the exam, she said the doctor kept his hand on MCclain's buttocks.
"I know doctors are not supposed to be touchy-feely," Mason said.
Franklin said he and other members of the hospital had not heard of any accusations of physical contact of that nature.
"Anything like that is new to me and new to this hospital," he said, adding that his chief operating officer and the medical director of the emergency department had both spoken with MCclain.
However, MCclain said, "We told them everything."
An attorney for the physicians' group, Questcare, based in Dallas, said she was unable to answer any questions because of federal law.
"I will say I am aware of the case you are referring to, and I believe you have been given some inaccurate information," said Ann Ward, general counsel. "I would be very careful about reporting things involving this matter based on the misinformation you've been given," Ann Ward said. "I wish I could give you facts, but again ... I'm prohibited from disclosing anything about what the doctor said or did ... ."
Ward said the doctor could not comment for the same reason.
The letter that MCclain received from the hospital said the matter was being addressed.
"I realize that this letter and apology cannot change the outcome of your personal experience; however, you can be assured that appropriate measures have been and will continue to be taken to address your concerns."
Franklin said he could not comment on the doctor's status in the emergency room because of the ongoing investigation.
"This is something that we've notified the emergency department group and something that we take very seriously," he said. "It's under current investigation review right now."
Darren Barbee, 817-390-7126