Medical Errors Among Lapses Cited By Medical Board

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Two physicians, in Norwich and New Haven, have been reprimanded by the state Medical Examining Board for improper conduct connected to errors made during surgeries, while a third physician who had escaped Connecticut sanctions for out-of-state sexual misconduct also has been disciplined.

The board, acting on a recommendation from the state Department of Public Health, reprimanded Dr. Gregory Criscuolo of Norwich in connection with a flawed spinal surgery at William W. Backus Hospital in January 2008. During a procedure intended to alleviate an impinged nerve in a patient’s spine, Criscuolo removed the wrong lamina, part of the vertebra. After realizing his mistake, he operated on the correct site.

The hospital had alerted the state DPH to the error.

In another decision, the medical board reprimanded Dr. John Bonadies of Hamden for improperly using a tacking device during a diaphragmatic hernia surgery at the Hospital of St. Raphael in New Haven in 2008. In that case, the tip of the tack ended up lacerating the patient’s coronary artery.  Bonadies had given a presentation to other surgeons about the dangers of using tacks in the pericardial space, the DPH consent order notes.

In a different type of action, the state board imposed a license reprimand on Dr. Laurent Brard of Massachusetts, based on prior disciplinary action taken against him in Rhode Island, where he had practiced in 2008.

Brard, an ob-gyn, was sanctioned by the Rhode Island Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline in 2008 for engaging in a sexual relationship with a patient. Last year, Massachusetts picked up on the Rhode Island charges and indefinitely suspended Brard’s license.

But in Connecticut, Brard has held an unrestricted license. His case was mentioned in a C-HIT story in December that highlighted Connecticut’s failure to impose reciprocal discipline on doctors punished in neighboring states. Since that story, the state has changed its policy on imposing discipline against doctors who are sanctioned in other states.

In addition to reprimanding Brard, who is now affiliated with the School of Medicine at Southern Illinois University, the DPH also imposed conditions that he would have to meet before resuming the practice of medicine in Connecticut.

The state medical board also revoked the license of a psychiatrist who reportedly overmedicated 10 drug-addicted patients in 2009, finding that he posed “a serious threat in his practice of medicine to the health and safety of his patients.”

DPH investigators reported that Gerson Sternstein of Berlin had routinely prescribed excessive doses of opiates, tranquilizers and other narcotics in dangerous combinations.  The department found that while some of Sternstein’s patients were on Medicaid insurance, they would “pay cash in the thousands of dollars for name brand prescriptions, a red flag for possible diversion of drugs.”  Sternstein was fined $50,000.

The state had suspended Sternstein’s license last year, prior to the revocation. The Department of Consumer Protection identified Sternstein as the No. 1 prescriber of controlled drug prescriptions in Connecticut from July 2008 to August 2009.



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