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.
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.”