Doctor Suing Catholic Charities for $2 Million

Local immigrants' medical care under fire

By Ashley E. Brown
|  Friday, Apr 8, 2011  |  Updated 10:10 PM EDT
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Doctor Suing Catholic Charities for $2 Million

Dr. Charles Briggs

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A doctor who used to work for clinics run by Catholic Charities in D.C. and Maryland is accusing the clinics of taking poor care of its patients, many of whom are immigrants.

Dr. Charles Briggs said he was fired from the Spanish Catholic Center clinics after he blew the whistle on what he saw as sub-standard and dangerous practices.

"It was kind of the old type of situation of 'shoot-the-messenger," Briggs told NBC Washington on Friday.

Now he's suing to get his job back, and seeking $2 million in damages from Catholic Charities.

"[There was] a failure to, in a timely manner, triage patients who would come into the clinic, which in one case resulted in a woman almost dying," Briggs said of the problems he saw at the D.C. and Langley Park, Md. clinics.

Briggs also said there were administrative mishaps, which in some cases also interfered with patient care.

When the Washington Post detailed the lawsuit allegations, Catholic Charities responded with a statement strongly denying the accusations.

Catholic Charities issued an updated statement on Friday, which said its clinics are on par with the standards set by the independent, private non-profit Montgomery County Primary Care Coalition.

The statement said patient care will get even better with an upgrade to its medical recordkeeping system, as well as a move from Langley Park to a new, state-of-the-art facility in Wheaton next week.

"The tireless and selfless work of our physicians, staff and volunteers should not be tarnished by one man's unverified allegations surfacing as misinformation in the media," the Catholic Charities statement concluded.

For his part, Briggs said he doesn't fear any hostility if the lawsuit does result in his reinstatement at the Spanish Catholic Center. He said his actions are in the interest of the community.

"It's not only for myself that I'm seeking justice, but it's also for the patients. Because the immigrant population that we serve is vulnerable," Briggs said.

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