State health officials have withdrawn drug charges against Spokane dermatologist Dr. William P. Werschler. The move effectively clears Werschler of wrongdoing.
“The evidence just wasn’t there” said Bill Etter, the attorney who represented Werschler against claims of drug use, falsifying records and providing narcotics without legitimate medical reasons.
Calling it a smear campaign, Etter contends Werschler was a victim of workplace vendettas, a contentious divorce that continues to boil in court long after the official decree, and a reckless state investigation.
Through his attorneys, Werschler said: “These lies have severely damaged my professional reputation, my family and my business.”
Werschler is now considering lawsuits against several people and the state of Washington for pursuing false allegations, Etter said.
Mike Farrell, staff attorney for the Washington State Quality Assurance Commission, said the charges “were withdrawn after more information came to light.”
He declined to discuss specifics.
In a stipulation agreed to by the commission, Werschler will keep a drug log and submit to two audits a year for two years.
Physicians are required to keep such records and state health officials have the right to inspect those records upon request.
Werschler intends to continue practicing medicine in Spokane and to keep better records, Etter said.
The commission is a 21-member panel appointed by Gov. Chris Gregoire. It regulates doctors and investigates complaints. Members include 13 physicians, two physician assistants and six members of the public, including attorneys.
When the commission charged Werschler, the dermatologist fought back aggressively. He was never accused of crimes, although the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency looked at the accusations.
Etter said the charges collapsed when the evidence couldn’t withstand scrutiny. Cell phone records, plane tickets and other data challenged a timeline of events on which investigators based their charges, Etter said.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.