An East Hartford pediatrician who served a federal sentence for illegally prescribing oxycodone and failing to pay more than $177,000 in employee withholding taxes to the IRS has voluntarily surrendered his medical license.
Since Dr. Sheikh Ahmed of Orange, who operated the East Hartford Medical Center, has turned in his license, the state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday agreed to drop its charges against him. If he tries to reinstate his license in the future, the charges will be deemed true, according to an affidavit from Ahmed.
State Department of Public Health records accuse Ahmed of engaging in illegal and negligent conduct by prescribing oxycodone, an opioid painkiller, to people in exchange for money without examining them in 2017 and 2018. He also increased their dosage of the drug without justification, DPH records show.
The U.S. State’s Attorney’s office said in 2020 that two people paid Ahmed $500 for 30-day supplies of oxycodone. It added that he counseled the people to increase the dosages gradually to avoid scrutiny from pharmacists. The ages of the people are unclear, but records show he treated adults as well as children.
Ahmed was arrested in 2018, and in 2019, he pleaded guilty to one count of prescribing outside the scope of medical practice and one count of willful failure to pay withholding taxes, federal records show.
In 2020, U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport sentenced Ahmed to six months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. The U.S. Attorney’s office said he had paid back the money he owed to the IRS. Federal court records show that Ahmed’s prison sentence was delayed three times for health reasons until at least September 2021, but federal prison records show he was released from custody on Feb. 2.
In an unrelated case in 2018, Ahmed was convicted of a state felony, health insurance fraud, for misusing his nurses’ Medicaid numbers and for falsifying medical records to make it appear that the nurses performed medical treatment that they had not performed, DPH records show. In 2013, the state Department of Social Services had terminated Ahmed as a Medicaid provider after investigating fraudulent Medicaid billing activity, DPH records show.
In other business Tuesday, the medical board fined a Hamden psychiatrist $5,000 for failing to adequately monitor a patient’s blood levels after prescribing medication between 2014 and 2019. Under a consent order the board approved, Dr. Enrique Tello Silva was also ordered to complete courses in patient communication and the management of patients on lithium, a drug used to treat mood disorders. Tello Silva chose not to contest the allegations, the order said. His attorney, Kevin Budge of New Haven, told the board that Tello Silva has taken the matter very seriously and has a “deepest regret” about the situation.
Before recusing himself from the vote, board member Dr. Robert Green said the fine was reasonable, but the board is seeing too many cases of doctors not properly monitoring prescriptions.
“Something went wrong and the patient suffered because of it,’’ Green said. “Prescription writing and monitoring is a huge problem not only in the state of Connecticut but in this country.”
In 2020, the board fined Tello Silva $5,000 and placed his medical license on probation for a year for failing to withdraw a patient from the use of Xanax on a safe schedule. The doctor, whose name was spelled as Tello-Silva on state records in that case, discontinued the patient’s use of Xanax in 2018 and didn’t provide the patient with adequate information about the drug, state records show.
Under that order, the doctor was required to hire another physician to monitor his practice for a year. He was also ordered to take courses in medical documentation and the proper prescription and discontinuation of benzodiazepines such as Xanax, the order said.
Tuesday, the medical board also reprimanded the license of Dr. Robert W. Behrends, a Waterbury psychiatrist, for prescribing more than a 72-hour supply of a controlled substance and failing to review the patient’s records in a drug monitoring program, according to a consent order approved by the board.
Behrends has completed courses in proper prescribing practices. In signing the order, he did not admit wrongdoing but chose not to contest the allegations.
Green objected to the reprimand as “nothing more than a slap on the wrist.” Behrends’ attorney, Mary Alice Moore Leonhardt of Farmington, said the patient in the case died. She added that Behrends has fully cooperated with DPH. She said he is winding down his practice and is “not one of these doctors out there prescribing like a cowboy.”
“The patient outcome was an extremely jarring experience for Dr. Behrends,’’ she said.
The board accepted the consent order by an 11-3 vote with Green and board members Michele Jacklin and attorney Joseph Kaliko voting no.