January 19, 2016

Med Board Reprimands, Fines Doctors

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The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday reprimanded a Litchfield physician for his abuse of alcohol and violating professional boundaries with an office employee.

In unrelated cases Tuesday, the board also fined two doctors and a physician assistant and reprimanded a Rhode Island doctor who has a license to practice in Connecticut.

In the Litchfield case, Dr. James O’Halloran III was also reprimanded for prescribing controlled substances for five patients without adequate documentation or safeguards, according to a consent order approved by the board Tuesday. O’Halloran works full-time for the state Department of Correction, but these actions took place in his private practice, the consent order said.

In 2014, he had a personal relationship with an employee and his prescription pad was stolen, David Tilles, a staff attorney for the state Department of Public Health, told the board. The investigation was launched in February 2014 when a pharmacist reported to state officials that a prescription appeared to be forged, Tilles said.

Under the order, O’Halloran’s license was also placed on probation for five years and he is permanently restricted from practicing in a setting by himself. He also must attend therapy sessions, and he agreed to refrain from drinking alcohol or using controlled substances and will have random drug and alcohol tests while on probation.

O’Halloran also agreed to attend an average of 10 support group meetings a month and to provide DPH with evidence of his attendance.

His attorney, David A. Haught of Hartford, said O’Halloran has been on a leave from the correction department that expires Wednesday and has given up his private practice. He said O’Halloran’s urine tests have all been clean since October 2014.

The board also fined two doctors who practice together in Brookfield – Dr. Larry S. Wasser and Dr. Ganesh Natarajan – $2,000 each for allowing unlicensed medical assistants to take X-rays from 2010 to 2015, according to consent orders they each signed.

A former employee of Wasser had complained about the practice to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The doctors have changed their office practices so they are no longer violating state law, the consent orders said.

Their attorney, Barry Cepelewicz of Stamford, told the board that the two pulmonologists were not aware what they were doing was wrong until state officials contacted them.

“They appreciate the serious nature of this,” he said. “As soon as they found out, they have just stopped doing this.”

In another case, the medical board fined a physician assistant from Milford $3,500 for writing controlled substance prescriptions for his adult son without a properly established doctor-patient relationship, state records show.

In 2013 and 2014, Parimal Patel, who worked at an urgent care office, prescribed for his son without the knowledge of his supervising physician, according to a consent order Patel agreed to on Dec. 30.

In January 2014, Patel signed an agreement with the state Department of Consumer Protection in which he said he will not prescribe drugs for himself or his family except in an emergency. In March 2015, he allowed his certificate to prescribed controlled substances to lapse. In addition to the fine, the medical board on Tuesday also reprimanded Patel and said he cannot apply to have his registration reinstated until he completes coursework in prescribing controlled substances.

The board also reprimanded Dr. Carl Schwartz of Barrington, Rhode Island for his actions in Rhode Island, where officials there reprimanded and fined him $650 in 2015 for failing to maintain sufficient medical records. Schwartz, an anesthesiologist, had failed to document a finding of a medical test in a patient’s record, according to a Rhode Island consent order that was read to the board by DPH staff attorney Brittany Allen.

Connecticut law allows the board to discipline doctors who hold Connecticut medical licenses when they are sanctioned for violations in other states.

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