March 15, 2016

Stamford Doctor Surrenders License, Avoids Disciplinary Charges

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A Stamford doctor has surrendered his Connecticut medical license rather than face disciplinary charges for letting two unlicensed men perform liposuction on two unsuspecting patients at his spa in Stamford in 2011.

Dr. Marlon Castillo voluntarily surrendered his license Feb. 29, according to a consent order presented to the state Medical Examining Board Tuesday. The board agreed to drop the pending charges against Castillo, who was convicted in New York in 2014 for aiding or abetting in the unauthorized practice of unlicensed medicine.

The board dropped the charges on the advice of lawyers from the state Department of Public Health, who said that continued prosecution of the case was unnecessary because Castillo no longer has a medical license.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a 2014 press release that Castillo acted out of greed when he let Carlos Arango and William Ordonez perform the surgery in 2011 on women without general anesthesia, leaving them permanently disfigured.

Arango admitted to recruiting the two female patients in Queens, New York and that he and Ordonez performed the liposuction with Castillo’s knowledge at Castillo’s office at On Shape Medical Spa on Strawberry Hill Road in Stamford, Schneiderman said.

New York records show that Castillo told patients the men were licensed and lied about his pending criminal case when he tried to renew his medical license in New York in 2013. New York officials have since banned Castillo from practicing medicine.

After pleading guilty in New York on May 8, 2014, Castillo was sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to pay $8,700 in restitution to his victims, Schneiderman said.

In other business, the state Medical Examining Board disciplined six doctors on Tuesday, including reprimanding and fining Dr. David L. Johnston of Ridgefield $3,000 for billing Medicare and private insurance companies for services he did not provide.

It also placed Johnston’s medical license on probation for three years and ordered audits of his practice for two years after he resumes billing Medicare and insurance companies.

DPH staff attorney David Tilles said Johnston finished serving a three-month sentence in federal prison in December after pleading guilty earlier in 2015 to federal health-care fraud charges.

Johnston was billing for osteopathic services that he said he had provided but were actually provided by a massage therapist, DPH records show.

Johnston had falsely billed insurers for more than $70,000 in services he did not provide, a consent order approved by the board said.

In addition to the prison sentence, Johnston, who operates the Osteopathic Wellness Center in Ridgefield, was ordered to pay $270,528 to settle civil claims related to the fraud, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

On Tuesday, the board also fined a Norwich doctor $4,000 for failing to secure his prescription pads, leading to several fraudulent prescriptions being taken to local pharmacies.

The board also reprimanded the Norwich doctor, John Paggioli, for pre-signing blank prescriptions and leaving them with his medical assistant, who did not sufficiently secure them when she left work at the end of a day. Paggioli did not contest the allegations, which were laid out in a consent order he signed.

The medical board also reprimanded Dr. David S. Parnas, a family medicine physician from Westport, for his failure to appropriately prescribe narcotics to patients, a consent order he signed said.

The board also placed Parnas’ medical license on probation for two years and DPH will monitor a portion of his medical records. DPH is also requiring him to take courses on prescribing practices and recognizing drug addiction and drug-seeking behavior, the consent order said.

In 2012 and 2013, DPH received referrals from two other state agencies that he was inappropriately prescribing drugs.

In March 2013, Parnas surrendered his permit to prescribe controlled substances, the consent order said. A DPH consultant found that Parnas failed to document narcotic prescription doses, failed to adequately evaluate pain and did not adequately monitor medication use by patients between 2008 and 2013, the consent order said. Parnas did not contest the allegations.

The board also reprimanded and fined a Stamford doctor $2,500 for directing unlicensed office staff to give medication injections to patients.

DPH launched an investigation of Dr. David Lauren, medical director at the AFC Doctors Express urgent care center in Stamford, after receiving an anonymous complaint that unlicensed staff members were giving injections to patients under Lauren’s direction between June 2014 and August 2015, state records show.

In October, Lauren submitted a plan of correction to DPH and hired an advanced practice registered nurse to supervise licensed practical nurses giving the injections at the walk-in clinic, according to a consent order Lauren signed. Lauren did not dispute the allegations against him.

The board also reprimanded a retired New Canaan doctor, Katherine Wagner-Reiss, for prescribing cough medicine with codeine for family members between 2012 and 2014 without doing physical exams or keeping medical records on them.

Her attorney, Matthew Sconziano of Bridgeport, urged the board not to reprimand Wagner-Reiss, a pathologist who retired in 2015 from St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport. He wrote to the board that she was a “model physician” with an “unblemished professional career” for more than 35 years.

He wrote that she prescribed the cough medicine for herself, her husband and her two adult children because she was concerned about the comfort of her family members in the case of an illness. He wrote that she was not aware of the requirement that doctors need to keep formal medical records for family members when writing prescriptions for them.

Sconziano wrote that since Wagner-Reiss has voluntarily surrendered her state registration to prescribe controlled substances, there is no need for a formal reprimand.

On Tuesday, the board reprimanded Dr. Tarek Alasil, an ophthalmologist, who works at Yale-New Haven Hospital, in connection with disciplinary action taken by Massachusetts officials in October 2015.

Massachusetts officials fined Alasil $5,000 and reprimanded him because he failed to report to Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River on April 23, 2012 when he was on call despite three requests for him to come in. The CT board can discipline doctors with Connecticut medical licenses when they have been disciplined by other states.

 

 

 

 

 

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