May 20, 2014

Med Board Fines Three Doctors

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The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday fined a Norwich doctor $5,000 for mishandling the care of his diabetes patients and fined a Bridgeport doctor $5,000 for improperly documenting prescriptions.

The board also fined Dr. Thomas Cocco of Bridgeport $3,000 for inappropriately prescribing drugs to himself, his son and his wife. It also barred him from performing surgery because his fine motor skills are impaired, state Department of Public Health records show.

Also in a highly publicized case, the board dropped sexual assault charges against Dr. Tory Westbrook because the Glastonbury doctor, who has been convicted of sexually assaulting patients, had voluntarily surrendered his medical license May 9 as part of a plea agreement.

In levying a $5,000 fine, the medical board found that Dr. Hervey Weitzman of Bridgeport had failed to properly document prescriptions for his daughter and another person between 2010 and 2011.

The consent order states that Weitzman failed to properly document the termination of a doctor-patient relationship and the transition to a new doctor. Some board members objected to being asked to approve the consent order with few details of the allegations against Weitzman, saying they had to be sure they were imposing a fair penalty.

“We all know the department does an excellent job, [but] we’re not here as rubber stamps or potted plants,’’ Dr. Jeffrey A. Gordon, a member of the board, said.

DPH staff attorney David Tilles said he could not provide the board with more evidence because the consent order was developed as part of the negotiating process with Weitzman’s attorney. Board member Patricia Loving said if DPH did not negotiate such consent orders, the only alternative would be to hold hearings on every allegation against doctors.

In other business, the board fined Dr. Helar Campos of Norwich $5,000 and placed his medical license on probation for a year for his failure to meet the standard of care with his diabetes patients. DPH records show he delegated the monitoring of the patients’ use of insulin pumps to unlicensed employees who work for the pump manufacturer.

It was not Campos’ first time before the board. Just two years ago, he was fined $7,000 for the illegal delegation of nursing care to unlicensed staff, DPH records show.

The latest case against Campos began when a doctor complained to state officials about Campos’ diabetes plans for several patients.

DPH records state that between 2008 and 2012, Campos, who has offices in Norwich and New London, failed to properly educate patients in the use of an insulin pump, failed to monitor them and failed to provide the patients with nutrition counseling.

Campos also failed to refer one patient to an ophthalmologist for monitoring of diabetic retinopathy, records show.

Campos signed a consent order in which he did not dispute the allegations. Under the order, he cannot delegate medical or nursing care to any unlicensed person and must hire a doctor to supervise his practice during his probation.

In the case against Cocco, the medical board fined him $3,000 for inappropriately prescribing drugs to himself, his wife and his son between 2010 and 2012, records show.

Records show Cocco had violated a 2006 agreement with the state Department of Consumer Protection that barred him from prescribing drugs to friends or family members except in a medical emergency. In 2012, Cocco voluntarily surrendered his registration to prescribe controlled substances, Matthew Antonetti, a principal attorney with DPH, told the medical board.

During its analysis of whether Cocco, 83, could safely practice medicine, DPH learned that a physical evaluation of him had identified that he has impaired fine motor skills, records show.

The consent order approved bars Cocco, who has held a medical license in Connecticut for 50 years, from performing any surgical procedures. DPH records point out that no patients had complained about Cocco’s ability to perform surgery.

The medical board’s case against Westbrook, 45, came to end Tuesday even while he is in prison in Cheshire awaiting his Sept. 19 sentencing on multiple sexual assault charges.

DPH had accused Westbrook of sexually assaulting three female patients in 2011 and 2012 at the Community Health Center in Clinton and having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a fourth patient. He was also charged with inappropriately prescribing a drug for the fourth patient.

The board had suspended his medical license in June 2012. DPH records said its department’s continued prosecution of the charges was no longer necessary because Westbrook had voluntarily surrendered his license in court May 9.

Records show Westbrook has been in prison since Nov. 15 when a jury in Superior Court in Middletown found him guilty of multiple counts of second-degree and fourth-degree sexual assault of patients.

Westbrook, who pleaded no contest May 9 to 12 other charges that he sexually assaulted clinic patients in Clinton and at a laser hair removal center in Manchester, is expected to be sentenced to 14 years in prison, according to media reports.

Westbrook’s attorney Norman Pattis did not attend the medical board meeting. By e-mail he said, “The criminal disposition illustrates the savagery of the criminal justice system. Prison accomplishes nothing in this case.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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