Dr. Phil Werschler has been awarded $600,000 and what might be the first public apology ever by state health officials who investigated Werschler and his practice based on bogus anonymous tips from his ex-wife.
Werschler, the founder of the Spokane Dermatology Clinic, was also awarded more than $100,000 in a separate suit against his ex-wife, Kara Werschler.
State health officials said the payment to Werschler is among the largest settlements in decades paid by the state Department of Health involving a physician.
The public apology is possibly the first time the state has apologized to a physician.
Doctor Werschler told KXLY in an interview his reputation has been deeply scared. Werschler also said one of his sons was teased at school and he personally has lost patients, colleagues, and friends as a result of the investigation.
"I'd like to know what line I get in to get my reputation back," he said.
In April 2009 the state Department of Health launched an investigation into Dr. Werschler after receiving an anonymous tip about wrongdoing at his clinic. At the time, investigators said that he had been using controlled substances including hydrocodone, marijuana and cocaine.
The allegations into illicit behavior from the anonymous tipster went on, claiming that there were cocaine binges, sex orgies with staff and patients, hiring prostitutes, and falsification of medical drug records going on at the office.
"Being accused by the state, the Department of Health, for some of the most horrible things a physician and someone who holds a license to prescribe drugs could ever be accused of," Werschler said.
Investigators wouldn't reveal the source of the allegations and Werschler's attorney said the claims were false, were a product of the doctor's divorce from his wife Kara, he had passed all previous drug tests and had no prior criminal history.
It was later revealed that Kara Werschler, who also was an employee at the clinic, had been the anonymous tipster to state health officials as the couple were going through an acrimonious divorce battle.
The state's Medical Quality Assurance Commission later withdrew its statement of charges against Werschler after they decided the allegations couldn't be proven as they were the result of his failed marriage and disgruntled employees.
"There's no law-abiding tax-paying citizen who should ever be subjected to the illegal, unethical, and immoral intrusion into their life and into their practice the way I've been subjected to it," Werschler added.
Werschler has agreed to keep better records and have his practice audited for the next two years.