September 18, 2012

Med Board Says Colon Irrigation Should Be Regulated

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The state Medical Examining Board voted Tuesday to require that people who perform colon irrigations fall under the scope of medical practice and should be licensed.

The board had a lengthy discussion about whether it has jurisdiction over the colon flushing procedure that has been cropping up in the state. Greenwich Health Director Caroline C. Baisley, asked the board to intervene in a July 23 letter. The practice, sometimes called colon hydrotherapy, involves infusing large quantities of water into the rectum to flush out the colon.

Baisley said her staff discovered a non-medical person performing the procedure in a massage therapist’s office during a routine inspection.

Baisley said she was concerned about an unlicensed person performing this procedure, that the conditions were unsanitary, and that materials were used from one patient to the next without being properly cleaned, but because this procedure is not licensed by any state agency, she had no legal way to stop the practice.

“I think this is an issue of public health here,” Baisley said. “I urge the board to look at this seriously before someone gets hurt.”

Board member Dr. Henry Jacobs read an advertisement for the procedure that made several claims to the health benefits of this procedure, saying, “I think I can safely say that none of this has been verified by any peer review panels on this planet.”

Several board members expressed concern, saying if performed on the wrong patient, this procedure could have life-threatening consequences.

In other action:

• Bridgeport ophthalmologist Jeffrey Sandler was fined $5,000, after admitting to performing laser surgery on the wrong eye of a patient. Sandler performed the surgery on the right eye in March 2011, rather than the left eye as planned. The patient, who was scheduled to get the surgery in both eyes, was told of this mistake and the surgery was later performed on the left eye.  Sandler waived his right to an evidentiary hearing and admitted to the mistake. This fine will be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank, an electronic record of all payments made by physicians in connection with medical liability.

• Dr. Mary Jane Brackett’s proposed discipline of six months’ probation and a fine of $1,000 was again sent back for further revision.  The board wants the discipline to include that the Watertown doctor take a department-approved ethics course.

In April, a review panel concluded, Brackett made an untimely and false report to the state Department of Children and Families, alleging that her patient made herself completely naked in front of her father during the office visit. DCF investigated the charges, concluding that they were not substantiated. As a mandatory reporter, a doctor is required by state law to report suspected child abuse within 12 hours of its discovery.

The board panel further concluded, bases on the written record and Brackett’s statements, that she erroneously reported on the patient’s medical records that she performed a breast exam and rectal exam. She told the hearing panel that she did not perform these exams because of the father’s presence in the room.

Following an evidentiary hearing, a panel of the board concluded that Brackett made a false allegation against a patient’s father and falsely reported in a patient’s medical records performing exams that she did not do.

Board member Dr. Daniel Rissi, who was on the review panel, said the checks on boxes indicating that she performed exams she did not perform was “misleading rather than false.” Brackett, whose lawyer said she has been practicing medicine for four decades, told the panel that that’s the way she keeps records to note that a matter was addressed, he said. “It was not with the intent of falsifying the record,” Rissi said.
While he and other panelists said they did not think an ethics course “would have any effect,” they did not object to an ethics course requirement being added to the agreement.

Also on Tuesday:

• The board agreed that Dr. Edwin Njoku, does not have to pay his $25,000 fine while he is appealing his medical license revocation in Superior Court.  Njoku faces multiple charges of sexual assault involving female patients.

• Dr. Howard Kaplan, a Danbury internist, was placed on probation. The consent order said that he would be on probation until he completed coursework in prescribing practices and that his probation will end after he provides proof of completing the coursework. His lawyer said he has completed the class and is waiting for the health department to sign off on it.

The discipline follows a finding that he prescribed controlled and non-controlled medications for himself, his wife and his two sons without maintaining medical records between January 2010 and October 2011. The department began an investigation following a report from the Department of Consumer Protection’s Drug Control Division, the state agency that oversees doctors’ licenses to administer controlled substances. He agreed to stop prescribing for himself, his family and friends under any circumstances. The consent order had allowed him to prescribe in an emergency, but after several board members said that he could obtain medications through hospitals in emergencies, he agreed to the board’s more stringent decision.

• Charges were dismissed against Branford plastic surgeon David Goodkind, stemming from a June 28, 2007 breast augmentation and a tummy tuck on a patient with a history of blood clots and a blockage of the main artery of the lung. While a panel of the board found that Goodkind failed to maintain complete written records concerning a post-operative procedure, the board concluded that the issue did not rise to the level of warranting discipline.

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