Former employee of Mount Pleasant dermatologist accuses doctor of assault

  • Posted: Friday, June 8, 2012 12:08 a.m.

A former nurse assistant for a dermatologist with offices in Mount Pleasant and Pawleys Island has accused the doctor of intentionally exposing her to used syringes.

Heather Tisdale recently filed a $1 million civil suit in Georgetown County against Dr. Michele Mittelbronn of Coastal Dermatology. The lawsuit alleges battery, assault and intentional interference with Tisdale’s employment.

Tisdale’s attorney said other Coastal Dermatology employees have contacted him with similar complaints.

Mittelbronn allegedly placed a used syringe on the counter while performing a skin culture to check a patient for a staph infection on Feb. 2, according to the lawsuit. The procedure involves collecting skin or fluid to check for the bacteria.

The filing accuses Mittelbronn of intentionally leaving the needle on the counter in order “to cause harm” to Tisdale, who suffered an injury.

The lawsuit also accuses Mittelbronn of screaming at Tisdale for not preparing a patient for surgery faster and for omitting a syringe from the surgery tray on March 1.

The filing alleges that Mittelbronn pushed Tisdale’s hand as Tisdale attempted to numb a patient with a needle, causing the syringe to prick Tisdale.

Mittelbronn could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Tisdale resigned from her job at Coastal Dermatology. Her attorney, N. David DuRant of Surfside Beach, said his client did not file criminal charges at the time of the alleged incidents.

“The way to hurt somebody like that is in their pocketbook,” DuRant said. “They’re not going to get anything but a slap on the wrist for a simple assault.”

Tisdale’s case seeks $1 million in damages, citing pain and suffering, shock and loss of income.

Her lawsuit alleges that Mittelbronn “threatened” and “generally abused” Tisdale and other staff members and “created a hostile work environment” that made Tisdale’s job “impossible” to continue.

DuRant said his client underwent testing for bloodborne diseases, including Hepatitis and HIV, after the alleged needle sticks. DuRant said Mittelbronn never reported the incidents to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as required by law.

Mittelbronn graduated from the University of Florida College of Medicine in 1997, according to the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. The state medical board lists her license as being in good standing without any disciplinary action.

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