Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Drug doc faced claim

Malpractice lawsuit: Doctor with
cocaine-possession charge
dismissal was impaired
during patient’s care

By David Baker
Posted Sunday, May 29, 2011

A doctor who was the center of controversy after a drug-possession charge was dropped hours after a police officer allegedly found pieces of crack cocaine in and near his car was later accused in a civil wrongful-death lawsuit of being impaired while treating a patient at St. Peter's Hospital in Albany.

But the lawsuit, like virtually every other malpractice case filed against Capital Region medical providers over the past 12 years, was not reported by the media.

The doctor, Darroch Moores, was in the news in 2001 after he was pulled over in Albany’s Arbor Hill neighborhood for allegedly running a red light. The officer stated that he saw something being thrown out a window of Moores’ SUV, and found a small rock of crack cocaine in the vehicle’s ashtray and two pieces on the ground near the car.

The doctor claimed that while he was stopped at a red light, a teenager jumped into the back seat and tried to sell him the crack.

Moores initially was charged with possession of an illegal drug, but the next day an assistant district attorney agreed to drop the misdemeanor charge. The doctor instead pleaded guilty to running a red light and agreed to a fine of $100.

Moores, a surgeon, practiced at both St. Peter’s Hospital and Albany Medical Center Hospital and also had a private practice. He took a leave of absence and entered an in-patient physician-impaired program. As a condition of keeping his medical license, he was ordered to submit to random drug testing after the state Board for Professional Medical Conduct alleged that he was a “habitual user of … narcotics, barbiturates, amphetamines, hallucinogens or other drugs having similar effects,” an allegation Moores did not deny in a consent order.

Moores returned to work at St. Peter’s Hospital nine months after his arrest, in January 2002. But the lawsuit alleges that in October of that year, Moores and another doctor, Bradley Champagne, caused injuries that led to the death of 57-year-old Kathleen Baker of Cohoes, in part by damaging Baker’s spleen during a surgery, requiring its removal.

“The Defendant Moores was negligent for being under the influence of narcotics and/or alcohol at the time care and treatment was rendered to the decedent,” the lawsuit says. “The defendants’ negligence and medical malpractice was a proximate cause and substantial cause of decedent’s injuries and death, on December 11, 2004, and damages and deprived her of a substantial opportunity to recover from her condition.”

The dropped drug charge prompted a wave of controversy in the media, with representatives of minority groups accusing the DA’s office of racially motivated favoritism. But a search of the archives of the area’s newspapers produced no indication that the lawsuit alleging that Moores was later impaired while treating a patient was reported.

The lawsuit also named as a defendant St. Peter’s Hospital. Documents publicly available at the Albany County Clerk’s office do not indicate how the claim, filed by Kathleen Baker’s husband, Bryce, ended. But an entry on the court system’s Web page dated August 27, 2007 – just 17 months after the case was filed – says: “Disposed. Settled before trial.”