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Clinical AdvisorFired Physician Sues Nurse, Chief Nursing Officer for Slander

Did Medical Autonomy Clash with Hospital Policy During the Pandemic?

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, a physician’s decision to use off-label treatments led to a complex legal battle, raising questions about medical autonomy and hospital policies.

Key Points:

  • Dr. H, the chief of medical staff at a large public hospital, used the medication bamlanivimab for treating four COVID-19 patients. This medication had an emergency use authorization for mild-to-moderate cases but was not approved for hospitalized patients.
  • Two patients showed positive results, and none experienced adverse effects.
  • Before Dr. H could treat a fifth patient, the hospital administration suspended the use of bamlanivimab.
  • The Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) and Ms. N, the charge nurse, informed the patient and their family about the suspension, stating the medication’s non-approval for hospitalized cases.
  • Dr. H was later dismissed, officially for not adhering to the hospital’s personal protective equipment policy.
  • Dr. H sued the hospital, its CEO, the CNO, and Ms. N on multiple grounds.

Additional Points:

  • The court dismissed Dr. H’s claims of discrimination and interference with his relationship with a patient.
  • The court did not recognize Dr. H’s argument that his right to exercise medical judgment was a fundamental right.
  • Dr. H’s claim of retaliation for his “expressive conduct” was also dismissed.
  • The slander claim, based on Ms. N’s communication with the patient and family, was dismissed as it wasn’t connected to Dr. H’s dismissal or proven to harm his reputation.


  • The court determined that Dr. H’s case was primarily an employment dispute, not a constitutional claim, and dismissed the case against the hospital’s CEO, CNO, and Ms. N.

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“Plaintiff essentially argues that Defendants interfered with his ability to treat a patient in the manner he saw fit, that they, in turn, poisoned his patient’s mind against him, and that they employed tactics to tarnish his professional reputation. Plaintiff has not alleged that a fundamental right was infringed by Defendants’ actions. … Instead, Plaintiff seeks to elevate what is essentially an employment dispute to the constitutional level.”

The Court
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