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Judge Restores Iowa Radiologist To Paid Leave

March 28, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Medical Ethics, Pediatric Radiology, Practice Management
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The bizarre battle between radiologist Malik Juweid, MD, and the University of Iowa took another turn on Monday when District Court Judge Patrick Grady ordered that Dr. Juweid be returned to paid administrative leave.

We’ve been following this case for a couple of years now, most recently here. Dr. Juweid filed a lawsuit last year saying he was the victim of racial discrimination and retaliation for blowing the whistle about overuse of X-ray scanning, particularly on children, by University of Iowa physicians. He is a Jordanian-born U.S. citizen and still officially a professor of nuclear medicine at the university.

The university contends that Dr. Juweid has behaved disruptively and has harassed colleagues.

During the dispute, the university placed Dr. Juweid on administrative leave. He continued to draw his $241,000 annual salary. The Iowa City Press-Citizen newspaper, citing court records, reports that at some point, Dr. Juweid went on medical leave to deal with mental-health issues.

When he had exhausted his paid sick leave, university officials wanted to keep him on unpaid sick leave. Dr. Juweid asked to be restored to paid administrative leave status. He provided medical opinions from two psychiatrists who said he was fit to return to work.

Jean Robillard, MD, vice president for medical affairs at the university, rejected the request. Court records say Dr. Robillard based the rejection on his “familiarity with Dr. Juweid’s circumstances and Juweid’s own prior e-mails about his health.”

In his ruling, Grady pointed out that Dr. Robillard’s expertise is in chronic kidney disease, not psychiatry. The ruling said:

Dr. Robillard’s focus on what happened prior to Dr. Juweid’s treatment ignored the issue of his current ability to return to work. Dr. Robillard’s decision did not address the principal issue involving sick leave, it does not meet due process standards and is a substantial risk of being erroneous.

The judge based the ruling in part on Iowa’s whistle-blower–protection law. “There is strong governmental interest,” he wrote, “in protecting employees who have engaged in activities protected by the whistleblower statute from suffering adverse, retaliatory actions at the hands of the employer.”

This soap opera is likely to continue running for a long time. We’ll stay tuned.

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One Response to “Judge Restores Iowa Radiologist To Paid Leave”

  1. Radiology Daily»AlertArchive » Iowa Radiologist Finally Offers To Quit, Later on May 1st, 2012 at 10:02 am

    […] been following the case for two years. Most recently, we let you know that as part of his lawsuit against the university, Dr. Juweid in March won a court order that he […]