State Fines Docs For Overprescribing Meds, Having A Relationship With A Patient, Wrong Site Incision

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The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday disciplined five doctors, including fining a West Hartford psychiatrist $7,500 for prescribing excessive doses of Xanax and fining a Hamden ophthalmologist $7,500 for having a consensual relationship with an adult patient.

The board also reprimanded the medical license of the psychiatrist, Dr. Dale Wallington, for performing an inadequate diagnosis of the patient and for failing to implement strategies between 2008 and 2017 to prevent the patient’s abuse of Xanax and Vyvanse, a consent order Wallington agreed to said. Vyvanse is used to treat attention deficit disorder.

The board also placed Wallington’s license on probation for 18 months, during which he must take a course in prescribing practices and hire a physician to review a portion of his medical records, the order said.

In a letter to the state Department of Public Health, the patient’s parents complained about Wallington’s care of their son and objected to the consent order. They asked that Wallington be barred from practicing medicine for an unspecified amount of time. They did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.

“Dr. Wallington’s reprehensible conduct caused immeasurable suffering for our son and family,’’ the couple wrote. “We remain hopeful that one day our son may be able to live a normal life free from the consequences of nine years of Dr. Wallington’s reckless, harmful medical practice.”

Since the DPH investigation started, Wallington has received extensive re-training in addiction diagnosis and treatment and obtained a specialty in addiction medicine with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the consent order said. By signing the order, he chose not to contest the allegations against him.

The board also imposed a $7,500 fine on and reprimanded the license of Dr. Andrew Swan, the Hamden ophthalmologist. State records show that in 2011 and 2012, he violated ethical boundaries by having a consensual relationship with a patient. Records show he has completed a course in medical ethics and boundaries. Swan chose not to contest the allegation and agreed to a consent order with the board.

Board member Jean Rexford said while the relationship could be considered consensual, “there is a disparity in power.”

“We have to be really sensitive in these cases,’’ she said.

The board also fined Dr. Mark Scanlan, an orthopedic surgeon from Hamden, $5,000 for performing an incision on the wrong site during surgery in 2017, a consent order he agreed to said. He was supposed to be operating on a patient’s left ring finger and instead made an incision on the patient’s left thumb, the order said. Scanlan chose not to contest the allegation.

Board member Michele Jacklin voted against the consent order, saying that the $5,000 fine was insufficient.

The board also reprimanded the medical license of Dr. Gayle Klein, a psychiatrist from Mansfield, and placed her license on probation for a year. A consent order she agreed to said that in 2017, Klein prescribed Xanax to an acquaintance of hers without maintaining sufficient medical records. Klein also inappropriately prescribed the same patient a cannabidiol, or marijuana, spray, the order said.

Klein, who chose not to contest the allegations, was also ordered to take courses in ethics, medical documentation and controlled substance prescribing practices within six months. During the year on probation, she must also hire a physician to provide quarterly reviews of a portion of her prescriptions for controlled substances or medical marijuana.

The board also reprimanded the medical license of Dr. Thomas Knox, a West Hartford cardiologist after finding that he violated the standard of care in 2015 when he failed to maintain appropriate treatment records for a patient. A consent order he agree to said he also improperly delegated the assessment of the patient and administration of medication to an unlicensed person.

Knox admitted no wrongdoing but chose not to contest the allegations. State records say that the patient’s daughter-in-law complained that the patient had been seen by unlicensed staff and prescribed pine bark powder without being examined by Knox. Knox maintained that pine bark powder is a non-prescription treatment option, and a DPH consultant found that Knox’s general care of the patient was appropriate, records show.

The board also issued a cease and desist order to the owner of Danielle Marie Day Spa in Stratford to have her stop practicing medicine and surgery without a license. The owner, Danielle Donfrancesco of Stratford, practiced medicine without a license in 2017 and 2018 when she medically assessed clients and performed laser hair removal, a consent order said.

While not admitting wrongdoing, Donfrancesco agreed to stop practicing medicine, the order said.

Dr. Robert Green, a board member, voted against the order, saying the penalty was too lenient and that a fine or criminal action should be considered against the spa owner.