Psychiatrist Surrendering Colorado License Suspected In Deaths Of 36 Patients In New Mexico

Part of the ongoing series:
You Be The Judge

A psychiatrist who surrendered his Colorado medical license in August to settle allegations that he over-prescribed drugs and that six of his patients died from drug overdoses is now under investigation by authorities in New Mexico for the deaths of 30 other patients over a six-year period.

Edwin B. Hall was licensed to practice in Colorado since 1984, but had been practicing in New Mexico when his alleged over-prescribing came to the attention of authorities there.

The Albuquerque Journal reports a search warrant was recently served by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Division, alleging that a total of 36 of Hall’s patients died from 2013 through 2018.  Authorities seized records of patients being treated by Hall and other providers in his now-closed practice in Albuquerque.

Six deaths were allegedly the result of overdoses, according to the warrant and information from the New Mexico Medical Board.  Hall did not admit any wrongdoing, but agreed in March to permanently surrender his New Mexico medical license.

Investigations by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office into the other 30 deaths are ongoing.

The Colorado Medical Board issued its Stipulation and Final Order in August, based on the investigations and allegations by the New Mexico Medical Board.

In its Order, the Colorado Board alleged that Hall had prescribed controlled substance drugs “in a manner posing a threat to the health of his minor and adult patients,” that he “failed to effectively screen, evaluate, assess, and monitor patients to whom controlled substances had been prescribed,” and that “six of his adult patients died as a result of an overdose.”

The Board further alleged that an unlicensed individual was treating patients at Hall’s practice and billing Medicaid under Hall’s name.

The unlicensed individual was identified by a New Mexico law firm as John A. Connell, a  psychiatrist whose license had been revoked in Georgia over allegations of over-prescribing drugs and sexual contact with a female patient.

Hall denied the Colorado Board’s allegations, but agreed to permanently surrender his Colorado license, effective August 6, to resolve the matter.

In addition to ongoing investigations, the Albuquerque Journal reports three civil lawsuits have been filed in New Mexico against Hall alleging medical negligence, with one of the suits also naming Connell as a defendant.

If you or someone you know has been over-prescribed psychiatric drugs by a psychiatrist or other prescribing mental health worker, we want to talk with you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Boulder Psychiatrist Put On Probation – His Third Disciplinary Action By A State Medical Board

Part of the ongoing series:
You Be The Judge

 The license of Boulder psychiatrist David K. Rosenthal has been put on probation and his practice will be monitored for five years under the terms of disciplinary action taken recently by the Colorado Medical Board.

In its Stipulation and Final Agency Order dated July 24, 2018, the Board found Rosenthal substituted telephone calls for several in-person appointments with a patient whose mental health symptoms and condition were too severe for it, and failed to meet with the patient regularly to ensure he was safely prescribing drugs to him.

This is the third public disciplinary action taken against Rosenthal by a state medical board, one of which led to the surrender of his California medical license.

According to Medical Board of California disciplinary documents, Rosenthal admitted that in 2000, he had sexual relations with a female patient who was seeking treatment from him after reportedly being sexually assaulted by her landlord.

Rosenthal was convicted in 2001 in Sacramento County Superior Court of misdemeanor sexual battery and sexual exploitation.  He was sentenced to 180 days in jail and three-year probation, during which time he was ordered not to treat females or minor children.  He was also ordered to get sexual abuse counseling and pay restitution to his victim.

Rosenthal subsequently surrendered his California medical license in 2002.

In April 2003, he applied to reactivate his Colorado medical license, which had been inactive since 1993.  In November 2003, the Colorado Medical Board granted him a restricted license to work only at correctional facilities because “the oversight inherent in the practice of medicine in the correctional system will adequately protect the public.”  He was also required to complete a course on maintaining personal boundaries.

In September 2004, Rosenthal requested that the restrictions be modified.  The Medical Board agreed in October 2004 to a five-year stipulation, limiting his license to patient evaluations and medication management.  He was required to disclose to his patients that he had been disciplined by the Board for sexual contact with a patient and that such contact is “inappropriate under any circumstances.”

He was also required to continue treatment as determined by the Colorado Physician Health Program, which monitored his practice and his treatment of patients, in particular “those patients who might trigger vulnerabilities leading to boundary violations” by Rosenthal.

The restrictions expired in October 2009.

In May 2016, Rosenthal was again disciplined with a letter of admonition from the Colorado Medical Board.  It found that in his treatment of a patient, he failed to consider alternative and more appropriate medications to treat the patient’s anxiety, failed to properly address the tapering of the patient’s Xanax, inappropriately prescribed Neurontin on an unsupervised basis (to help with Xanax withdrawal seizures), and failed to address the PTSD he had diagnosed in the patient.

The Board decided not to start formal proceedings against his license at that time.

Rosenthal’s current probation with practice monitoring extends to July 2023.

If you believe a psychiatrist or other mental health worker has engaged in unprofessional conduct, we want to talk with you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Wheat Ridge Psychiatrist’s License Put on 5-Year Probation Following Arrest For Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Part of the ongoing series:
You Be The Judge

Wheat Ridge psychiatrist Andrew W. Teaford’s license to practice was put on probation for five years after the Colorado Medical Board found he “has habitually or excessively used or abused alcohol, a habit-forming drug, or a controlled substance.”

The action was taken in response to Teaford pleading guilty in September 2017 to the criminal charge of driving under the influence of drugs.  He was sentenced in Denver County Court in February to 30 days of in-home detention, one year of supervised probation, education and therapy, monitored sobriety, and community service.

After reporting his guilty plea to the Medical Board in September, Teaford was evaluated by the Colorado Physician Health Program (CPHP), which reported he was to undergo inpatient assessment and treatment for substance abuse.  He signed an agreement at the time to stop practicing as a physician pending further evaluation and investigation by the Medical Board.

After he completed the treatment program in February and arranged for continuing drug testing, therapy and other recovery meetings, CPHP reported to the Medical Board that Teaford was safe to practice “only in the context of treatment and monitoring.”

The Medical Board’s Stipulation and Final Agency Order, effective June 15, requires Teaford to abstain from addictive substances and receive treatment and drug testing for five years as required and monitored by CPHP, while his license remains on restricted status for five years.

If you believe a psychiatrist or other mental health worker is not safe to practice, we want to talk with you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Thornton Psychiatrist’s License Put On Probation For Substandard Prescribing and Treatment Via Telehealth

Part of the ongoing series:
You Be The Judge

The license of Thornton psychiatrist Khaja Najibuddin Chisty was placed on probation for five years in April after the Colorado Medical Board determined he had engaged in unprofessional conduct under Colorado law.

The Board found that while Chisty was out of the country for two extended periods, his patients were not notified that their appointments with him would be done by remote telehealth, and they did not consent in advance to this form of treatment.   Some patients were unable to reach his office for treatment at all during his absence.

While out of the country, Chisty also provided some patients with prescriptions for controlled substances after minimal consultation and without performing full physical examinations or face-to-face evaluation of the patients.

On April 26, 2018, the Medical Board issued its Stipulation and Final Agency Order in the matter.  The Order replaces an earlier interim agreement for Chisty to cease practicing, dating from December 2016.

By entering into the Stipulation and Final Agency Order, Chisty admitted the Board’s findings.

Under terms laid out in the agreement, Chisty is ordered not to use telehealth, not to prescribe controlled substances, to allow his practice to be monitored, to complete a prescribing course, and to undergo treatment as determined by the Colorado Physician Health Program.

If you or someone you know has been harmed by treatment from a psychiatrist or other mental health worker, we want to talk with you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Boulder Psychiatrist Accused Of Overdrugging Female Inmates Loses License

Part of the ongoing series:
You Be The Judge

A Boulder psychiatrist accused of overdrugging female inmates at the correctional facility where he worked – in some cases causing them to become delirious – has permanently surrendered his license to practice, under an agreement reached with the Colorado Medical Board.

According to Board documents, Charles F. Clark started patients on multiple psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs simultaneously, prescribed initial dosages in excess of the recommended starting dosages, and rapidly increased the dosages of multiple drugs simultaneously.  He reportedly ignored potentially dangerous drug interactions and reports from staff at the facility that inmates were experiencing adverse side effects and were even delirious.

Clark allegedly also prescribed psychotropic drugs that were not justified and were sometimes contraindicated by information documented in the inmates’ medical records, as well as restarted inmates on psychotropic drugs that had been stopped by other providers.

Such actions constitute unprofessional conduct as defined in the Colorado Medical Practice Act.

The Medical Board received a complaint concerning Clark’s actions in 2016.  Clark denied the allegations, but agreed in December to cease practicing while the Board investigated further.

Then in a Board order dated July 20, Clark waived his right to a formal hearing and agreed to permanently surrender his license to practice in the state of Colorado.

If you or someone you know has been overdrugged or otherwise harmed by treatment from a psychiatrist or other mental health worker, we want to talk with you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Denver Psychiatrist’s License Revoked For Practicing and Prescribing With Expired License

Part of the ongoing series:
You Be The Judge

A Denver psychiatrist who continued to practice after his license expired in 2015 and then failed to respond to an official complaint against him violated the Colorado Medical Practice Act and has been disciplined with the loss of his license.

The Colorado Medical Board received a complaint that Gordon L. Neligh III violated state law by practicing psychiatry and prescribing Ritalin, a controlled substance, without a valid license, according to documents recently posted online by the Department of Regulatory Agencies.

The Board turned the matter over to an administrative law judge who, under Colorado law, can take evidence and make findings for the Board.

Neligh was notified of the legal proceedings, but failed to respond to the complaint and failed to appear at the proceedings.  By default, he is deemed to have admitted the allegations.

The administrative law judge found that Neligh engaged in unprofessional conduct by practicing with an expired license and by failing to respond in an honest, materially responsive, and timely manner to the complaint against him.

The judge recommended that Neligh’s license be revoked.  The Medical Board adopted the decision, effective June 15.

Online records indicate Neligh was in private practice with offices in Denver and Westminster.

If you or someone you know has experienced unprofessional conduct from a psychiatrist or other mental health worker, we want to talk with you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Colorado Medical Board Disciplines Three Psychiatrists For Wrongly Prescribing Psych Drugs

Part of the ongoing series:
You Be The Judge

Three Colorado-licensed psychiatrists were disciplined by the Colorado Medical Board in April for unprofessional conduct that involved wrongly prescribing psychiatric drugs to their patients.

  • Ronald R. Berges, formerly employed by a Littleton psychiatric facility, prescribed a sedative, a benzodiazepine, and narcotic pain medications to a patient despite knowing the individual had a history of substance abuse and dependence and was exhibiting drug-seeking behavior, according to a Board document. Berges also continued prescribing Valium and Fentanyl, which can cause respiratory depression, to another substance abuser and failed to verify the doses of the drugs the patient told him he was getting.  The Medical Board sent Berges a letter of admonition and required him to complete a prescribing course.  Berges is now practicing in Iowa.
  • Jonathan B. Covey, of Colorado Springs, has been put on indefinite probation by the Medical Board for confusing the dosages of two mood stabilizers prescribed to a patient, and for his insensitivity and poor communication with another patient. In addition to probation, the Board sent Covey a letter of admonition and required him to complete an ethics program and communications course.
  • Richard L. Wallingford III, of Montrose, received a letter of admonition from the Board for failing to review the hospital discharge summary of a patient with a history of addiction before re-starting her on controlled substances. The Board further stated: “Your communication, coordination of care, and indefinite use of benzodiazepines without a discussion of alternatives or a possible reduction in use is below the standard of care for a Suboxone patient with a long history of addiction to both street and prescription drugs.”  Suboxone is a drug used to treat opiate addiction.  The Board warned Wallingford that any further such complaints could result in the Board starting formal disciplinary proceedings against his license to practice.

If you or someone you know has been harmed by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health worker, we want to talk with you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept strictly confidential.

Erie Psychiatrist Disciplined For Improper Prescribing And Romantic Relationship With Patient

Part of the ongoing series:
You Be The Judge

An Erie psychiatrist specializing in addiction psychiatry has been put on indefinite probation by the Colorado Medical Board after admitting he wrongly prescribed controlled substances to a female patient, failed to maintain proper records of his prescribing and treatment of her, and engaged in a romantic relationship with her.

Halbert B. Miller was publicly disciplined by the Medical Board with indefinite probation effective March 16, a letter of admonition, and orders to complete a professional boundaries course and a prescribing course in response to his actions, which are unprofessional conduct under Colorado law.

Boundary violations occur when doctors use their position of trust and authority for their own pleasure or benefit (or the benefit of others).  Psychiatrists account for the largest percentage of doctors with boundary violations.  One in three physicians who were disciplined for inappropriate personal contact with patients were psychiatrists.

Miller, who is also licensed in North Dakota, had been disciplined by that state’s medical board for the same misconduct, which it termed “unprofessional, unethical and/or dishonorable conduct that is likely to deceive, defraud or harm the public.”

Miller was previously disciplined by the Colorado and Massachusetts Medical Boards.

After failing to renew his Massachusetts license in 2013, Miller continued to practice psychiatry without a license.  He also fraudulently claimed in his license renewal application that he was Board-certified in addiction psychiatry, but the certification had expired in 2008.  In 2014, the Massachusetts Medical Board publicly reprimanded Miller and fined him $2,500 for this misconduct.

Following the actions taken by the Massachusetts Board, the Colorado Medical Board sent a letter of admonition to Miller in 2015, stating that his actions were also unprofessional conduct under Colorado law and warning him that any similar conduct in the future could lead to formal disciplinary action against his Colorado license.

Miller currently lists addiction psychiatry as his specialty in his online profile.

The Colorado Medical Board monthly disciplinary action summary lists Miller’s address as Erie, while the Department of Regulatory Agencies license lookup lists it as Lafayette.  Online search results indicate he practiced in Boulder.

If you or someone you know is the victim of inappropriate behavior by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health worker, we want to talk with you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept strictly confidential.

Denver Psychiatrist Disciplined For Misconduct with Sexually Obsessed Patient

Part of the ongoing series:
You Be The Judge

A Denver psychiatrist has been disciplined by the state licensing board for unprofessional conduct with a patient who became sexually fixated on him during treatment.

Steve Sarche failed to terminate his doctor-patient relationship with a patient who developed erotomania during treatment that lasted from approximately November 2008 through July 2012, according to a Colorado Medical Board public document posted online.

Erotomania is defined as excessive sexual desire, or the delusional belief that one is the object of another person’s love or sexual desire.

The Medical Board also found that Sarche crossed professional boundaries by seeing the patient outside of his office, and by continuing to communicate with the patient after the professional relationship was finally terminated.

The Board found that the behavior was unprofessional conduct under state law and issued an order, effective February 27, under which Sarche agreed to a disciplinary letter from the Board, indefinite probation, and completing an ethics program and professional boundaries course.

Psychiatrists account for the largest percentage of doctors with boundary violations, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.  Boundary violations occur when doctors use their position of trust and authority for their own pleasure or benefit (or the benefit of others).

Similarly, a 2001 study  published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that one in three physicians (34%) who were disciplined at least partly because of their inappropriate personal contact with patients were psychiatrists.

If a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health worker has acted improperly with you or someone you know, we want to talk with you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept strictly confidential.

Psychiatrist’s License Among Four Remaining Suspended For Authorizing Excessive Marijuana Plant Possession

A Denver District Court judge decided against reinstating the medical licenses of a psychiatrist and three other physicians who allegedly authorized the possession of an excessively high number of marijuana plants for hundreds of individuals without medical necessity.

In his August 12 decision, the judge said he did not have the jurisdiction to make a ruling because the case had not yet been reviewed in an administrative proceeding.

The Colorado Medical Board had summarily suspended the licenses of the four doctors, effective July 19.

One of the four, Deborah Kaye Parr of Durango, practiced as a psychiatrist providing addiction treatment.

The Board’s order of suspension for Parr stated that from January 1 to May 25, 2016, she signed more than 300 medical marijuana certifications authorizing individuals who did not have a diagnosis of cancer to possess 75 or more marijuana plants.

The standard number of plants a medical marijuana patient can grow is six, with a medical justification needed for more plants.

All four of the doctors with suspended licenses sued the state, claiming that there is no law or Medical Board rule prohibiting doctors from authorizing large plant counts.

The Medical Board maintained that it has the authority to determine whether a doctor’s treatment of patients is standard medical practice.

The Board found that authorizing more than 75 marijuana plants without a diagnosis of cancer falls “below generally accepted standard of medical practice and lacks medical necessity” and is, therefore, a violation of the Medical Practice Act in Colorado law.

Parr previously disciplined in Texas for controlled substances prescribing

Parr was previously disciplined by the Texas Medical Board, where she was licensed from 1998 to 2012, for her prescribing of controlled substances to two patients with a history of substance abuse.

According to the Texas Board, Parr prescribed increasing doses of a controlled substance without a documented rationale for one patient, and substituted opiates instead of trying to wean the other patient off Vicodin.

The Board found that Parr harmed the patients, that “the harm was severe and contributed to [their] addiction,” and that her actions constituted “increased potential of harm to the public.”  Parr’s failure to appear at a settlement conference was cited as an additional aggravating factor in determining the disciplinary action taken.

On June 4, 2010, the Texas Medical Board and Parr entered into an agreed order that publicly reprimanded her, fined her $10,000, and required her to complete educational courses.

The Colorado Medical Board followed the Texas Board’s action by sending Parr a letter of admonition in November 2010, warning her that “any repetition of such practice may lead to the commencement of formal disciplinary proceedings against your license to practice medicine” in Colorado.

Sara Carver, director of clinical operations for Southern Rockies Addiction Treatment Services, expressed concern about Parr’s history of prescribing opiate-based drugs to patients with a history of substance abuse, according to the Durango Herald.

“We…fear that her questionable prescribing practices spill over into her prescribing practices in addiction treatment as well,” Carver said.