A Greenwich doctor who is a registered sex offender in Connecticut and New York was denied a hearing Tuesday on his request to have his Connecticut medical license reinstated.
The state Medical Examining Board – which alarmed some patient advocates in 2011 when it voted to allow Dr. Clifford A. Berken to practice with some restrictions following his arrest on sex charges – denied the request from Berken and his attorney Diana Carlino. The state Department of Public Health had objected to giving him a hearing.
Berken, a doctor of internal medicine and gastroenterology, had surrendered his medical privileges at Greenwich Hospital and left his private practice in Greenwich, following his arrest in New York in 2008.
In 2010, Berken pleaded guilty to charges by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office in New York that he had engaged in sexually explicit online conversations with an undercover officer posing as a 15-year-old boy. Police said Berken discussed various sex acts on numerous occasions and attempted to meet the “boy” in White Plains, where investigators arrested him.
He was sentenced on a first-degree charge of attempting to disseminate indecent material to a minor and was placed on Connecticut sex offender registry for 10 years. His license to practice medicine in New York has since been revoked.
This August, Berken wrote to DPH asking for a reinstatement hearing, saying he had been suffering from acute myelogenous leukemia in 2011 and was ‘at death’s door” when the medical board had previously handled his case.
In April 2011, the medical board voted to allow Berken to resume practicing while placing his license on probation for five years, requiring him to be overseen by a psychiatrist or psychologist, and barring him from treating patients under the age of 18. The board’s order also required that Berken have another employee present during “any examination or treatment of a patient,” state records show.
The board had heard evidence in 2011 that Berken was diagnosed with “various emotional disorders and/or mental health issues” that affected his ability to practice medicine—and that “may continue to affect his ability to practice medicine,” state records show.
The case took an unusual twist in June 2011 when DPH stepped in and notified the medical board that its April decision was moot because Berken’s license had lapsed in December 2010. The DPH denied Berken’s application for reinstatement June 10, 2011, and it was unclear why DPH did not notify the board earlier that Berken’s license had expired.
In 2012, DPH denied another request to reinstate Berken’s license. He sued to reverse that decision, but a Superior Court judge sided with DPH and dismissed the civil case, state records show.
On Tuesday, the board also imposed a permanent restriction against resuming the practice of medicine without advanced notice against Dr. David Yeager of Putnam, an obstetrician who was found to have deviated from the standard of care of four patients during labor and delivery at Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam. Yeager agreed to the restriction and did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.
On Nov. 15, 2013, the hospital suspended Yeager’s privileges while it investigated the four cases. While it did not find actual harm to the mothers or infants, the hospital found that Yeager’s action placed the women and babies ‘at elevated risk for a poor outcome,’’ according to a consent order Yeager signed with the board. The order said one infant had to be resuscitated.
On Dec. 8, 2013, Yeager voluntarily surrendered his hospital privileges, and he closed his practice and retired in March 2014, the order said. While not admitting wrongdoing, Yeager discussed the allegations in correspondence with DPH with “frank self-criticism” and chose not to contest the allegations of wrongdoing, the order said.
State records show that Yeager had made four malpractice payments since 1995.