Physicians Accused Of Spreading COVID-19 Misinformation Will Be Investigated, State Says

The state Department of Public Health (DPH) will investigate physicians accused of spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccines designed to combat the virus if a complaint is filed, officials said. Christopher Boyle, DPH spokesman, said that if the agency receives a complaint that a physician was spreading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, the Practitioner Investigation Unit will investigate. In July, the Federation of State Medical Boards warned physicians that they could face disciplinary action by a state medical board for spreading disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. DPH said that there is no mechanism for monitoring social media or other forms of media for doctors who are spreading misinformation. By state law, the public has no way of knowing if a physician is under investigation until a resolution to the complaint comes before the state Medical Examining Board months, or possibly years, from the filing of the complaint.

Access Health Special Enrollment Period Extended To Oct. 31

The state has extended the deadline to apply for health insurance plans through the American Rescue Plan Act Special Enrollment Period to October 31. Also, as of July 1, some Connecticut residents that meet specific eligibility requirements can pay $0 for their health insurance coverage through Access Health CT, thanks to the new Covered Connecticut Program created by the state. To qualify for the Covered Connecticut Program, you must:

Have a household annual income that is greater than 160%, and up to
and including 175% of the federal poverty level.  Have at least one dependent child in the household under age 19; children age 18 must be a full-time student in secondary school. Be eligible for advance premium tax credits (APTCs) and cost-sharing
reductions (CSRs).

Yale Study Links Housing Instability And Risky Sexual Behaviors

With federal and state eviction moratoriums ending soon, a team of researchers from Yale University and two other universities has found an apparent link between landlord-related forced housing moves and risky sexual behavior. In a study of 360 New Haven residents between 2017 and 2018, the researchers from Yale, American University and Drexel University found that such forced moves made some people sexually vulnerable and less likely or able to negotiate the use of condoms in a relationship. Seventy-seven New Haven residents in the study reported having been evicted or forced to move in the last two years because a landlord raised the rent or went into foreclosure, or for other reasons such as illegal drug use or sales. The study consistently found that those participants were more likely to report having unprotected sex or multiple sex partners than others in the study. Four percent of the residents who reported a forced move also reported providing sex for a place to live, and 8% reported having sex in exchange for money or drugs, said one of the researchers, Allison K. Groves, an assistant professor of community health and prevention at Drexel.

Med Board Fines Two Doctors, Orders Newington Woman To Stop Practicing Medicine Without A License

The state Medical Examining Board voted Tuesday to discipline two physicians with fines and ordered a Newington woman to stop providing injections for a fee without a medical license. In the first case, Dr. Richard Kravitz, who works at the Veterans Administration Hospital in West Haven and a private office in Hamden, came under scrutiny in August of 2018 after a female patient in his private practice reported that he had failed to inform her about side effects from the medication he prescribed, according to a consent order approved by the board. The woman contended in a letter to the board that Kravitz prescribed toxic levels of Lithium for three years but never sought blood tests, even though she complained of neurological symptoms. He also prescribed a “cocktail” of five other drugs, leaving the woman with side effects that changed her personality and appearance, she said. An investigation into the allegations revealed that Kravitz had failed to order laboratory testing for the woman and failed to document her treatments for three years, beginning in December 2015, documents said. Under a consent order, Kravitz must pay a $10,000 fine and follow the stipulations of an 18-month probation period including attending classes in proper documentation and laboratory monitoring of prescriptions.

State Medical Board Issues $5,000 Fines To Two Doctors

The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday issued $5,000 fines to two physicians, including one who failed to further evaluate a lesion found by an MRI in the vertebra of a patient; and slightly loosened the restrictions placed on a Torrington doctor who successfully completed a five-year probationary period. Gabriel Abella, a doctor practicing physical medicine and pain management, provided care to a patient from August to October 2017, state Department of Public Health (DPH) documents show. During that time, the patient received an MRI which showed a suspicious lesion within the vertebrae, the DPH said. But Abella did not acknowledge the radiologist’s report that indicated there was a lesion and didn’t order any further follow-up care to evaluate the lesion, DPH documents show. In addition to the $5,000 fine, the board reprimanded Abella’s license and placed it on probation for one year.

State Disciplines Psychiatrist For Improper Prescription Monitoring, Excessive Drinking

The Medical Examining Board issued this week a four-year probationary period to a psychiatrist who is accused of excessive drinking and failing to follow state law on utilizing Connecticut’s prescription monitoring program. Department of Public Health (DPH) investigators determined that Dr. Susannah Tung, a psychiatrist, who runs a private practice while also working for the state Department of Correction (DOC), abused alcohol to excess at least twice; on Oct. 11 2017 and Feb. 20, 2020. The board, in addition to the probation, reprimanded Tung’s license.

Students Work To Bolster College Campus Sexual Assault Law

The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down many aspects of college students’ lives, but one student advocacy group has continued its work toward strengthening the law on the reporting of sexual assaults on college campuses. The Every Voice Coalition in Connecticut, part of a national group of students and advocates, convinced lawmakers to sponsor a bill, An Act Concerning Sexual Misconduct on College Campuses, during this year’s legislative session. The bill, which was aired at a recent public hearing of the Higher Education and Employment Advance Committee, says that:

• Colleges will impose amnesty policies to protect students from being punished for reporting due to alcohol or drug use at the time of the assault; and

• Campus Climate Surveys will be disseminated to collect data on sexual violence and to increase transparency. Advocates and health officials maintain that sexual assaults on college campuses are under-reported. In 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut reported 436 incidents of sexual assaults and stalking on college campuses, but added that figure represents only a small percentage of all incidents on campuses.