Loading...

Words Of Wisdom

Inconsistent Punishments

In June 2007, a Nevada physician “A” and his wife, received national attention when they were charged on various counts by federal authorities after they allegedly injected patients with a cheap substitute for…

The Board’s inconsistent enforcement of existing statutes backfired when the arrest caused general confusion about whether medical assistants could provide flu shots…

… Botox that is not supposed to be used on human beings. Two years later, the physician was sentenced to 46 months in prison, while his wife received 30 months after the two were found guilty of multiple counts of mail fraud and one count of improper sale of adulterated drugs.

In a departure from its usual practice of treating these types of violations extremely lightly, the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners revoked the physician’s license in December 2008. The difference in the physician “A” case could have been media coverage or the fact that the couple faced federal charges. Physician “A” was, however, clearly treated much more harshly than other physicians similarly charged. For example, in March 2007, after finding another physician guilty of similarly substituting an unapproved botulism toxin for Botox, and also for assisting an unlicensed person to inject the poison into patients, the Board fined her a paltry $2000 and placed her on probation. And when the Board found that physician guilty of injecting people with fake Botox, and of improperly supervising a physician’s assistant, it fined him a mere $1,000 and ordered him to take a few courses on charting and medical ethics.

Likewise, in contrast with its historically lackadaisical attitude, the Medical Board went so far as to have one of Physician “A” ‘s medical assistants arrested for providing Botox injections even as Board members acknowledged that the practice of allowing assistants to perform the procedure was widespread in Nevada. The Board’s inconsistent enforcement of existing statutes backfired when the arrest caused general confusion about whether medical assistants could provide flu shots, a question that became especially pressing since it arose at the very moment that public health officials confronted the challenge of distributing H1N1 flu vaccine. The Board then went on to exacerbate the problems caused by its incompetence by attempting to adopt an emergency regulation that was later overturned because the discussion had been cut short by members’ desire to break for lunch.