Judge: Delaware Board Erred in Punishing Doctor for Retrieving P - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Judge: Delaware Board Erred in Punishing Doctor for Retrieving Pills

Posted: Updated:
(Photo: CBS) (Photo: CBS)

By RANDALL CHASE
Associated Press

DOVER, Del. (AP) - A judge has overturned a Delaware medical licensing board's disciplinary decision regarding a doctor accused of misconduct after allegedly allowing prison medical workers to give an inmate expensive pills that had been thrown into a syringe-filled "biohazard" medical waste box.

The board last year ordered 90 days of probation and a $1,000 fine for Dr. Laurie Ann Spraga after an incident in which 12 prescription hepatitis pills - costing $1,000 each - were discarded in a "biohazard" medical waste box after being spilled onto the floor. The pills were later retrieved and given to an inmate at the maximum-security prison in Smyrna.

State officials argued that Spraga was responsible for the incident. At the time, Spraga was the chief medical officer for Connections Community Support Programs, the contractor for the Department of Corrections. A spokesman for Connections said Tuesday that Spraga is no longer employed by the organization.

According to court records, a Maryland-based pharmacist working under contract for the DOC and supervising a pharmacist colleague based at the Delaware prison asked Spraga to arrange for the expensive pills to be retrieved, prompting Spraga to tell a nursing supervisor to do so.

A hearing examiner concluded as a matter of law that Spraga engaged in misconduct likely to harm the public.

But in a ruling dated Monday, Superior Court Judge Charles Butler noted that the hearing examiner also found that Spraga left the decision on reusing the pills to the two pharmacists for CorrectRx Pharmacy Services, which contracted with the DOC for its pharmacy operations.

"This was a dramatic departure from the state's theory of liability," Butler wrote.

The judge also questioned the hearing examiner's conclusion that Spraga should be held accountable for failing to overrule the prison-based pharmacist who authorized returning the pills to the bottle and approved their administration to the inmate. The prisoner was told of the incident after the fact, but has suffered no ill effects.

In his ruling, Butler noted that the state presented no expert testimony, while two experts who testified on Spraga's behalf said they would have ingested the pills. One of the experts was an infectious disease specialist who said administration of the pills was acceptable despite their "adventure" in a "sharps" container that contained, among other things, diabetic syringes and lancets.

Butler also ruled that the licensing board exceeded its authority in declaring that Spraga's conduct brought discredit upon the medical profession, an accusation that was never brought up in arguments before the hearing examiner or the board itself. The board's decision, he suggested, ignored Spraga's due process rights.

Butler remanded the case to the board for further proceedings as it deems appropriate.

"The Division of Professional Regulation and the board are reviewing the ruling and will proceed in accordance with the judge's order," said Douglas Denison, a spokesman for the Department of State.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Correction had no immediate comment, while a spokesman for the Department of Justice, whose attorneys represented the board, said his agency had no comment.

Daniel Griffith, an attorney representing Spraga, did not immediately respond to an email seeing comment.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Sussex County Drug Unit Arrests 14 in Drug Investigation

    Sussex County Drug Unit Arrests 14 in Drug Investigation

    08/23/2017 13:29:00 -04:002017-08-23 17:29:00 GMT
    Wednesday, August 23 2017 1:41 PM EDT2017-08-23 17:41:30 GMT
    Janie Handy, Jayquan Bland, Delane Jacobs; DSPDJanie Handy, Jayquan Bland, Delane Jacobs; DSPD
    SELBYVILLE AND FRANKFORD, Del.-- The Delaware State Police Sussex County Drug Unit has charged fourteen people following a three-month long drug investigation in the Pollybranch area of Selbyville.On Tuesday, DSP along with investigators from seven otherMore
    SELBYVILLE AND FRANKFORD, Del.-- The Delaware State Police Sussex County Drug Unit has charged fourteen people following a three-month long drug investigation in the Pollybranch area of Selbyville.More
  • Trial Nears for Alleged Leader of Delaware Criminal Network

    Trial Nears for Alleged Leader of Delaware Criminal Network

    Wednesday, August 23 2017 4:48 AM EDT2017-08-23 08:48:13 GMT
    Wednesday, August 23 2017 4:48 AM EDT2017-08-23 08:48:13 GMT
    Steven Kellam (Photo: Delaware State Police)Steven Kellam (Photo: Delaware State Police)
    A judge is holding a final case review in the prosecution of the alleged ringleader of an organized crime gang that operated in central and southern Delaware.More
    A judge is holding a final case review in the prosecution of the alleged ringleader of an organized crime gang that operated in central and southern Delaware.More
  • Following Lawsuit & Financial Turmoil, 2017 Punkin Chunkin Canceled

    Following Lawsuit & Financial Turmoil, 2017 Punkin Chunkin Canceled

    08/23/2017 11:33:00 -04:002017-08-23 15:33:00 GMT
    Wednesday, August 23 2017 11:33 AM EDT2017-08-23 15:33:27 GMT
    With less than 74 days until its annual event, The World Punkin Chunkin Association announced the 2017 Punkin Chunkin has been canceled following a series of financial turmoil and a lawsuit filed against the organization.More
    With less than 74 days until its annual event, The World Punkin Chunkin Association announced the 2017 Punkin Chunkin has been canceled following a series of financial turmoil and a lawsuit filed against the organization.More
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Neighbors React to Easton Recovery Home

    Neighbors React to Easton Recovery Home

    The Humble House has some neighbors like Michael Engels more than just worried.

    "The last thing I want to do is to find out there's a halfway house within walking distance from where my children will be playing and living," Engels said.

    Upset with what's just down the street, Engels says he's considering moving.

    More

    The Humble House has some neighbors like Michael Engels more than just worried.

    "The last thing I want to do is to find out there's a halfway house within walking distance from where my children will be playing and living," Engels said.

    Upset with what's just down the street, Engels says he's considering moving.

    More
  • Scheduled Jet to Land at Salisbury Airport Tuesday, Part 3

    Scheduled Jet to Land at Salisbury Airport Tuesday, Part 3

    It took more than two decades to get to the Salisbury Wicomico Airport to where it is. WBOC's Chris Weimer spoke with former airport manager Bob Bryant about the history of the airport's expansion.

    More

    It took more than two decades to get to the Salisbury Wicomico Airport to where it is. WBOC's Chris Weimer spoke with former airport manager Bob Bryant about the history of the airport's expansion.

    More
  • Following Lawsuit & Financial Turmoil, 2017 Punkin Chunkin Canceled

    Following Lawsuit & Financial Turmoil, 2017 Punkin Chunkin Canceled

    With less than 74 days until its annual event, The World Punkin Chunkin Association announced the 2017 Punkin Chunkin has been canceled following a series of financial issues and a lawsuit filed against the organization.

    More

    With less than 74 days until its annual event, The World Punkin Chunkin Association announced the 2017 Punkin Chunkin has been canceled following a series of financial issues and a lawsuit filed against the organization.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices