Board of Medicine Has Only Contempt for Governor Baker’s Opioid Efforts

Gov. Deval Patrick and his appointee as Chair of the Board of Medicine, Dr Sloan

By: Dr.Bharani Padmanabhan July, 2015

Governor Baker’s task force recently issued its much awaited report which advocated a comprehensive approach to dealing with the state’s heroin epidemic.

This report has much to appreciate within but also a few points that remain worrisome. For example the recommendation to stop asking patients in hospitals if their pain was controlled during their inpatient stay instantly raises many red flags.

But much worse than anything inside the report is the fact that the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine has nothing but utter contempt for the Governor’s heartfelt initiatives on behalf of the people of this Commonwealth, the same people who fund salaries at the Board out of their hard earned income.

One of the prongs in Governor Baker’s efforts is to get the cooperation of doctors and to have them be responsible in opioid prescribing. Most doctors already are part of the solution, but for those who do not care enough about the people, the tax-payer-funded Board is required to ensure laws are followed by all.

The Legislature mandated the Board to require that all physicians licensed to practice in Massachusetts should take mandated courses every 2 years on opioid prescribing in pain management. It is an absolutely compulsory requirement.

I personally have been trying to get the Board to act against Dr. Barry Levin of Emerson Hospital because I proved that he did not take the mandated course on opioid prescribing in pain management and lied under oath repeatedly about taking the course, including on his license renewal form. The Board of Medicine is not willing to act.

This is in marked contrast to other doctors who have lied on their license renewal form. Take for example the case of Dr. Richard Lipton who does not even practice in Massachusetts. Dr. Lipton sees patients only in New York but also has a Massachusetts license. The Board prosecuted him for lying on his license renewal form. (Case# 2014-019)

How much more important is it when the doctor who lied actually sees patients in Massachusetts? How much more important is it when the missing mandatory training course is in opioid prescribing?

Even after I made those points to the Board I have met only silence. Dr. Levin continues to practice here in Massachusetts untouched by this Board even after lying under oath on his license renewal form.

It gets worse.

Turns out, Dr. Levin isn’t just someone who lies low and seeks the shadows. No, Dr. Levin actually serves as an official expert witness for the Board of Medicine!

Happily, Dr. Levin is rewarded for supporting the Board against other doctors by being personally exempt from state law.

That really tells us all we need to know about the Board of Medicine.

So there you have it. Doctors who are ‘out’ with the Board are summarily thrown out of Medicine on any available pretext (like Dr. Ellen Malsky, who then hung herself the day after her 45th birthday). Mass Lawyers Weekly reported – “One of the most abusive practices of the board has been the threat to seek summary suspension — and the attendant publicity — unless the doctor voluntarily agrees to stop practicing”. And for years DALA Magistrates have rubber stamped the Board’s wishes through shameless verbal jujitsu.

Doctors who “make nice” and so are ‘in’ with the Board, like Dr. Barry Levin, are untouchable even after lying on their license renewal form and for openly treating with contempt Governor Baker’s fervent efforts. Deliberately lying on the renewal form is damning and definitely a preponderance of evidence. It certainly was for Dr. Lipton.

This week the Supreme Judicial Court slapped the Board of Medicine down in a rare push for accountability (SJ-2013-419) by ruling that even the Board has to obey the Constitution.

Truth is usually stranger than fiction. The truth here is that the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine has evidenced utter contempt for not just due process as noted by even the SJC but specifically for the Governor’s priorities from day one.

The undeniable truth also is that Secretary Sudders is presently not in any control of this Board, exactly like Secretary Bigby was not in any control of the Board of Pharmacy or DPH. 811 people were harmed and 64 people died on Secretary Bigby’s watch.

Before a problem can be solved, it should be publicly acknowledged. The SJC has set that ball rolling. In the Valley Patriot (Jan. 2014) I have already written about the corrupt practices of James Paikos at the Board of Medicine. James Paikos now is actively shielding Dr Levin from the law.

It is now up to Governor Baker to finally assert his control over this Board. Unlike the MBTA pension fund, the Board of Registration in Medicine is wholly within his direct jurisdiction and ultimately his sole responsibility.

Dr Bharani is a neurologist specialising in multiple sclerosis in the Boston area.