Medical Board Fines Two Docs, Another Surrenders His License

The state Medical Examining Board Tuesday accepted a Southbury doctor’s voluntary surrender of his medical license, fined a New Milford Hospital anesthesiologist $5,000 and reprimanded and fined a New London doctor $7,000.

The board also placed a Coventry doctor on one year’s probation.

In addition, after issuing a declaratory ruling that colonic irrigation is a medical procedure that falls within the scope of a physician’s practice and cannot be performed by an unlicensed practitioner, the board agreed to a request to reconsider its decision following a hearing.

On the doctor cases, the board:

• Agreed to halt disciplinary proceedings against Michael Ajemian, of Southbury, who surrendered his license in October. His license had been under suspension since June.  According the health department, Ajemian abused alcohol in 2011 to a point where his practice of medicine represented a threat to public health. The surrender will be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (N.P.D.B.) and the Healthcare Protection and Integrity Data Bank.

• Fined Brian M. Connolly, an anesthesiologist, $5,000 for performing a nerve block on the right leg of a patient who was having knee replacement on the left leg at New Milford Hospital in July 2011.  Connolly, who works for New Milford Anesthesia Associates, P.C., didn’t admit guilt but agreed not to contest the charges and to pay the fine. This will be reported to the N.P.D.B.

• Reprimanded Dr. Helar Campos and fined him $7,000 for permitting a paramedic or medical assistant to administer flu shots without properly documenting in patient records who was giving the shots. Campos practices family medicine in New London and Norwich, and this fine and reprimand will be reported to the N.P.D.B.

• Placed Dr. Arleen Sergis of Coventry on one year’s probation, ordered her to arrange for monthly monitoring by a doctor at her expense and required her to submit regular written reports.  The consent agreement also required the osteopathic physician to take several courses relating to prescribing narcotics, evaluating patients with depression and treating these patients. She has completed these courses, her attorney told the board. Sergis, who is seeking work, signed a consent order agreeing not to contest charges that she mishandled a suicidal, drug addicted patient.

According to the health department's consent order, the father of a former patient contacted the department expressing concern that Sergis continued prescribing Oxycodone to his 33-year-old son, despite being aware of his history of addiction and past hospitalizations for detoxification.  An expert reviewed the case and found several lapses in care, according to the consent order.

For example, the order says, she sent the patient to the hospital in May of 2009 because he was suicidal, but failed to sufficiently monitor his care there.  She subsequently prescribed Lithium, Oxycodone and Alprazolam with inadequate documentation in his chart to support this treatment, the order says. After the patient was hospitalized in September of 2009 for detoxification, which Sergis learned about two months later, she continued to prescribe narcotics and failed to refer the patient for psychiatric or pain treatment, according to the consent order.  This will be reported to the N.P.D. B.

Sergis had worked in a private family practice and at Windham Hospital, her attorney said, but is now unemployed. If she remains unemployed for 30 days, the lawyer for the state health department said, the probationary period will be suspended until she is working.

On colonic irrigation, the board agreed to reconsider its October ruling that it is a medical procedure that must be conducted by a licensed physician. Eight colonic irrigation practitioners wrote to the board, asking for a hearing. The hydrotherapists said they were trained and certified by the International Association for Colon HydroTherapy.

After a closed-door session, the board voted to have five board members serve as the hearing panel. As a result of the board’s decision, Assistant Attorney General Daniel Shapiro said, the declaratory ruling will be set aside, pending final ruling of the board.

At the board's September meeting, Greenwich Health Director Carolyn C. Baesley expressed concern over public health because of what she described as the unsanitary conditions at Greenwich Rolfing.

Attorney Marvin J. Miller Jr., wrote to the board on behalf of Karen Laessig, owner of Alaya Wellness Center in Greenwich, arguing that Laessig’s rights were violated when the Greenwich health department failed to notify her of its request to the medical board to require those who perform colon irrigation to be licensed.  The practice, sometimes called colon hydrotherapy, involves infusing large quantities of water into the rectum to flush out the colon.

There are 14 facilities in 13 towns in Connecticut, where hydrotherapists perform this procedure, according to a listing of facilities attached with Miller’s letter. There are at least two schools in the state that offer training in colon hydrotherapy, including the University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine, Miller’s letter said.

Laessig operates her facility in a “substantially different” manner, and had the board heard from others about their education, certification and FDA-approved equipment, they may have reached a different conclusion, Miller said. “You were not given the information in order to make an informed decision.”

Shapiro agreed that the Greenwich health department should have notified any other colon irrigation business in that it was seeking a declaratory ruling so that Laessig could have had a chance to provide testimony. But Shapiro disagreed with Miller on another point, saying the board is not required to hold a hearing, take evidence and listen to testimony before deciding whether to issue a declaratory ruling.

However, Shapiro continued, if the board had heard from Laessig prior to issuing its declaratory ruling, the board may have opted to hold a hearing.

There are at least two hydrotherapy facilities in West Hartford and Greenwich and one each in Bridgeport, Glastonbury, Woodbury, Guilford, Farmington, Danbury, Fairfield, Stanford, Redding, Prospect, Trumbull and Pawcatuck.

The board will set a hearing date in the near future.