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University Hospital officials say they cooperated with police in physician investigation

Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012 5:57 PM
Last updated Friday, Sept. 7, 2012 1:54 AM
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University Hospital officials said Thursday they had no indication a Prompt Care physician had a drug problem before police began asking questions about the number of suspicious prescriptions he was writing.

Rumbaugh  SPECIAL

Ed Burr, University’s vice president of legal affairs, said he did not know of any reports or concerns from staff about drugs on the part of Dr. John G. Rumbaugh, who was indicted in July on 37 felony counts of prescription drug fraud.

Burr also rebutted claims of a Richmond County sheriff’s investigator that hospital officials were reluctant to talk with officers about Rumbaugh’s case.

“We did everything we could to cooperate with the investigation,” Burr said.

Sheriff’s Inves­tigator Erik Williams said Wed­nes­day that he hadn’t been able to speak with Rum­baugh’s co-workers and that hospital officials had refused to discuss the doctor’s whereabouts after he entered a rehabilitation program in Atlanta.

“I was never asked where he was,” Burr said. “I can’t answer the question if I’m not asked. I assumed they knew.”

Burr also said that he had spoken with the practice manager at the Prompt Care where Rumbaugh had worked since June 2010 and that no one there had been asked to discuss the case with police.

“If (Williams) had made a request to interview any of those people, I would have set it up,” he said.

Williams’ supervisor, sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Meagher, said that in general University Hospital has been cooperative with investigations in the past.

“University as an entity has always cooperated,” he said. “They have always been the best of help.”

He attributed any difficulties to the “type of communication problems that can happen in any large organization.”

“I think (Williams) was dealing with someone down the line who didn’t know what they could say and that stalled him a couple of times,” Meagher said. “They didn’t know what they were allowed to say or just weren’t in the position to know.”

The indictments accuse Rum­baugh of illegally obtaining prescriptions of oxycodone and hydrocodone over a 13-month period starting in April 2011.

The investigation was prompted by a call from a pharmacist who
noticed a suspicious pattern of
prescriptions being filled by Rumbaugh in a patient’s name, police said.

Burr said a letter that went out to Rumbaugh’s primary care patients in March informing them that he would no longer be their physician was not related to concerns over his ability to treat patients. Nor was it connected to the criminal investigation, which began in June, he said.

Burr said the letter was necessary because Rumbaugh had made the decision to devote more time to treating urgent care patients in the hospital’s wound care clinic.

“It had nothing to do with anybody thinking that Dr. Rumbaugh had any impairment issues,” he said.

Burr said he had spoken to Rum­baugh’s colleagues in the wound care clinic and they hadn’t seen any signs that had raised a red flag.

“They were shocked,” he said. “They had seen nothing to indicate that he had any kind of problem.”

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Riverman1 09/06/12 - 08:06 pm
This is exactly as it SHOULD

This is exactly as it SHOULD have been done. They said they would have allowed employees to be interviewed. The point is it could have been done right and the employees interviewed with University's legal department telling what they could answer. Throwing threats at the employees as some in the media suggested was improper. You've got to understand federal law, HIPAA, does not allow anyone to reveal patient info. The lead on the other story said the investigator was trying to find out the names of patients Rumbaugh had treated from the employees of the clinic. It appears to me University and their employees acted appropriately.

MarinerMan 09/06/12 - 11:49 pm
I think several "discussions"

I think several "discussions" need to be had, with several individuals that responded to the first version of this story. Sgt. Meagher needs to start off with Mr. Williams, and how he discusses things with a media reporter. I agree RM, correctly handled, as I knew it was originally.

Techfan 09/07/12 - 04:03 am

Oxycodone+Rumbaugh+Limbaugh. A coincidence? I think not. Call Alex Jones.

Austin Rhodes
Austin Rhodes 09/07/12 - 11:45 am
LOL...yesterday, their silence was defended... claim they are happy to help...and all is well with the world? If the cop was wrong, he was wrong...BUT...based on his account, that the people were dodging him rather than explaining their position under HIPAA, my statements stand. No idea who is telling the truth here, but the notion that a cop be given the cold shoulder by a medical institution is loony. They should be happy to explain their limitations, but hiding from the cop is indefensible.

TFC2012 09/07/12 - 06:08 pm
Interesting 1st Response

My family and I were patients of Dr. Rumbaugh. We received the letter that was sent stating that he was no longer seeing patients back in the spring. Nothing else. I found it interesting that the first time University Hospital decided to comment publicly about this situation is only to defend itself about not cooperating with the police. The employees at the clinic where Dr Rumbaugh practiced are University Hospital’s employees. University Hospital’s administration should have had the responsibility and made it their duty to take a proactive approach to this situation when it first came to light. They should have communicated a clear message to their employees as to how to address questions from former patients as well as the media. They should have demonstrated compassion and concern for the patients that may not have received optimal care. They also should have shown compassion for their employed physician and his family. Had they done this openly with honesty and integrity they would not have to defend themselves and the issue would not be whether or not the police officer's inquiry was appropriate. What is University doing to provide an answer to us in terms of what we do now? The answer I got in a very curt manner was "I guess you will just have to use Urgent Care". No referral to another University physician? No promise of making it an easy transition to another University physician with our family's health records? This was a University employed physician who was acting illegally (going unnoticed and unreported for well over a year I may add) while caring for University’s patients, is there not a responsibility from the employer to assure that patients are well cared for moving forward? I'm left underwhelmed and very disappointed in the way in which this was handled by University Hospital and their administration. This sort of event shouldn’t be hidden it "just won’t go away" or "get swept under the rug".

Riverman1 09/07/12 - 06:15 pm
TFC2012, according to the

TFC2012, according to the reports, Rumbaugh had decided to move into emergency medicine and had stopped seeing family practice type patients. That was not related to his being an impaired provider.

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