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Fired ER Physician Sues Evac Paramedics

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A former emergency-room doctor at Bert Fish Medical Center is suing EVAC ambulance for damages he says he suffered -- including losing his job -- when paramedics in 2006 transferred a near-drowning victim to another hospital.

Dr. John Milton Jr. claims in the two-page lawsuit filed in Circuit Court that he lost his job at the New Smyrna Beach hospital as a result of what he calls a breach of duty to him by EVAC paramedics. The suit claims the child was moved without his knowledge, consent or permission.

The lawsuit stems from an incident on May 16, 2006, when 8-year- old Jarius Radcliff was taken by EVAC ambulance to Bert Fish after nearly drowning in a pool at a friend's house on Yule Tree Drive. At the time, Milton, then an attending ER physician at Bert Fish, said he conducted a visual evaluation on the child and determined he was stable and breathing on his own and that his circulation was OK.

But the child needed more care than his facility could provide, Milton said. He said he was on the telephone trying to arrange a transfer to Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach when the ambulance crew left with Jarius.

EVAC paramedics disputed Milton's account, saying they were not permitted to take the child off the stretcher, and that the doctor never evaluated or treated Jarius in the crucial 13 minutes they were there with him.

While EVAC typically does not comment on pending litigation," EVAC spokesman Mark O'Keefe said, "the paramedic very wisely realized the patient needed to be transported as quickly as possible to the next closest emergency room for treatment."

In a statement released a day after the incident, hospital officials said Milton, 51, violated hospital procedures and federal law requiring hospitals to treat any patient that comes through the doors of their emergency room and was terminated as a result.

The incident in our emergency room on Thursday was unfortunate and should not have happened," Chief Executive Officer Bob Williams said in the statement. "The physician involved no longer works in our hospital."

Miltondid not return a call seeking comment Monday. The suit seeks an unspecified amount for "severe financial consequences" that Milton suffered.

According to court records, Milton is named as a defendant in two unrelated pending lawsuits.

One of those suits seeks damages for a premature baby born in 2003 after Milton tried to transfer her mother to another hospital. The other lawsuit, filed last year, claims Milton failed to provide adequate emergency medical management to a man who died after he went to Bert Fish in December 2005 with difficulty breathing.

Jarius was released from Halifax Health about a week after he was taken there for treatment.

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