DALLAS — Baylor Scott & White Health is suing one of its former cardiologists for allegedly spreading COVID-19 misinformation under the Baylor name in media interviews, despite no longer being employed by the Dallas-based hospital, according to court documents.
Baylor, one of the largest healthcare systems in Texas, filed the suit against Dr. Peter A. McCullough in Dallas County District Court last month.
The lawsuit, which alleges a breach of contract by McCullough, is seeking more than $1 million in relief, and Baylor is also seeking a temporary injunction against McCullough.
McCullough, a former vice chief of internal medicine for cardiovascular disease at Baylor University Medical Center, left Baylor in February and agreed "not to state that he is employed by or affiliated" with the health system.
The lawsuit did not say why McCullough and Baylor parted ways.
McCullough's attorney, Clinton Mikel, called the lawsuit "frivolous" and a "politically motivated attempt to silence Dr. McCullough as he saves countless patient lives from Covid-19 and from ancillary actions related to Covid-19."
Mikel said McCullough, since signing a settlement agreement to part ways with Baylor, "has never stated that he is employed by or affiliated with Baylor."
"His usual and customary practice is to inform producers that he has no employment or affiliation with Baylor," Mikel said. "Because of his long-standing and well-respected prior leadership at Baylor and nationally, third party media sources, without his express or tacit consent/knowledge, have erroneously listed his previous positions."
Baylor in the lawsuit alleged that McCullough, since leaving Baylor, "has conducted dozens, if not hundreds, of interviews in print and video appearances" while appearing to hold titles related to Baylor, such as Vice Chief of Internal Medicine at Baylor University Medical Center."
In the media interviews, McCullough has allegedly spread falsehoods and misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccine, according to lawsuit.
One online article, cited in the lawsuit, quoted McCullough as saying "there has never been a confirmed second infection beyond 90 days with similar or worse cardinal symptoms and confirmed PCR/Antigen/Sequencing test" and that reinfection is usually a result of a false positive.
Another online article claimed that McCullough discouraged younger people from getting the vaccine, according to the lawsuit.
As a result of his media appearances, Baylor said it has received questions about McCullough's affiliation with the hospital and whether they support his opinions.
"The ongoing confusion" over McCullough's affiliation with Baylor "is exactly what Plaintiffs bargained to avoid in the Separation Agreement and is likely to cause Plaintiffs irreparable reputational and business harm that is incapable of remedy by money damages alone," the lawsuit said.
Baylor officials have urged people to get vaccinated. The health system last month announced it will require all employees, including contractors and students, to get fully vaccinated by Oct. 1.
"The Delta variant is the most contagious and dangerous strain we have seen to date, leading to exponentially increasing rates of severe illness and hospitalization," the Baylor Scott & White statement said. "The overwhelming majority of these cases are among the unvaccinated."