Found 248 Results Sorted by Case Date
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California – Neurology – Lamictal, Depakote, And Topamax For Seizures



A 14-year-old girl was referred by her pediatrician to a child neurologist for seizures.  The child neurologist first saw the patient on 8/10/2009. The patient’s first seizure occurred at age 10, early morning on 2/21/2006, and a second episode occurred in the early morning sometimes around December 2008.  At the time the patient saw the child neurologist, her medication included Klonopin 0.5 mg p.m., Depakote at 750 b.i.d., and Vistaril 10 mg p.m. The patient’s MRI on October 2008 was normal. The patient’s EEG performed on October 2007 noted 3-13 seizures.  The child neurologist’s assessment was “juvenile myoclonic epilepsy; rule out adverse effect of med correctly given; insomnia unspecified; depressive disorder; and cafe au lait spots x 2.” The child neurologist ordered a video EEG “to rule out any epileptogenic foci.”

On 8/12/2009, the video EEG was performed.  The technician reported sharp and slow waves left F3-C3.  The child neurologist read it as normal. A BAER was performed on the same day even though it was not ordered by the child neurologist.  The BAER was not indicated, and the referring diagnosis for the BAER was not in the record and was used only for billing.

The child neurologist next saw the patient on 8/21/2009 for a follow-up visit.  The child neurologist noted that the patient was tolerating Depakote well. The Depakote level was 101.  The child neurologist diagnosed breakthrough seizures despite the fact that no seizures were reported. The child neurologist added Topamax Sprinkles 25 mg to increase to 50 mg b.i.d.  She stopped the Klonopin and Vistaril.

On 11/2/2009, the child neurologist saw the patient for a follow-up visit.  She noted that patient was gaining weight with Topamax and wanted to stop Depakote, though it was well tolerated.  The patient had no seizures and no myoclonic jerks. The child neurologist ordered another video EEG without medical indication.  The result of the second video EEG was normal. The child neurologist’s reading of the video EEG followed a template and was the same with all of her video EG reports except for the first paragraph regarding time of sleep, wake, and meals.

The child neurologist next saw the patient on 5/3/2010.  The patient reported no auras or seizures. The child neurologist noted under past medical history that the patient had suicidal thoughts.  The child neurologist did not address this issue during this visit. The child neurologist continued Topamax 50 mg b.i.d., even though there was a note of memory problems.  The child neurologist reduced Depakote to 500 b.i.d. She ordered labs and a 4-day ambulatory EEG without any medical indication. The 2 previous video EEGs were normal, and the patient did not have any seizures.  The patient underwent a third video EEG on this visit, which was not ordered nor medically indicated.

On 6/8/2010, the child neurologist saw the patient for a follow-up visit.  The patient was taken off Topamax. Her memory improved, but her headaches recurred.  The child neurologist diagnosed migraines without asking sufficient questions to make that diagnosis.  She added amitriptyline 10 mg, Imitrex 100 mg, and continued Depakote 500 b.i.d.

The 4-day ambulatory EEG ordered on 5/3/2010 was performed on 7/6/2010.  It was completed despite the fact that the patient just underwent a third video EEG on 5/3/2010.  There was no medical indication for the 3 previous EEGs and the 4-day ambulatory EEG. The 4-day ambulatory EEG was read as normal.

On 8/23/2010, the child neurologist saw the patient for 2 back-to-back seizures that occurred on 8/11/2010.  The patient was taken to the emergency room with a history of early morning twitching since the seizures. The child neurologist’s assessment was breakthrough seizures.  The child neurologist added Lamictal 100 mg b.i.d. and raised Depakote from 500 mg b.i.d. to 1000 mg b.i.d. The child neurologist failed to recognize that on 7/29/2010, the patient was having myoclonic jerks, which were described as twitches.  The patient had been on 750 mg b.i.d. with a level of 100 and had been seizure free for 2 years. The child neurologist failed to recognize the important interaction between Lamictal and Depakote. The child neurologist failed to consider that it was very likely that the patient had toxic levels of both Depakote and Lamictal.  The child neurologist did not check the patient’s blood levels. The child neurologist ordered another video EEG and another ambulatory EEG. The video EEG was performed on September 2010 and was normal. The child neurologist used the same template on her report.

The child neurologist next saw the patient on 11/4/2010.  The patient was unable to sleep, had difficulties with coordination and balance, was forgetful; all symptoms consistent with medication toxicity.  The child neurologist failed to recognize it as such. The patient was on Depakote 500 mg b.i.d. and Lamictal 100 mg b.i.d. Suicidal ideation was noted in the child neurologist’s previous notes, but the child neurologist failed to address this issue.  The child neurologist added Prozac 20 mg, which had a black box warning for suicidal ideation.

The Medical Board of California judged that the child neurologist’s conduct departed from the standard of care because she ordered 4-5 video EEGs and an ambulatory EEG without medical indication, ordered a BAER with no medical indication, lacked knowledge and/or did not consider the important interaction between Depakote and Lamictal.  The child neurologist diagnosed migraines without establishing diagnostic criteria, diagnosed circadian sleep disorder without asking any questions regarding symptoms and adding the polysomnogram report in the chart, and prescribed Prozac to patient with a history of suicidal thoughts despite the black box warning.

For this case and others, the Medical Board of California placed the child neurologist on probation and ordered the child neurologist to complete a medical record keeping course, a professionalism program (ethics course), an education course (at least 40 hours per year for each year of probation), and a clinical training program equivalent to the Physician Assessment and Clinical Education Program offered at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.  The child neurologist was assigned a practice monitor and was prohibited from supervising physician assistants and advanced practice nurses.

State: California


Date: January 2018


Specialty: Neurology, Pediatrics


Symptom: Headache


Diagnosis: Neurological Disease, Drug Overdose, Side Effects, or Withdrawal, Psychiatric Disorder


Medical Error: Improper medication management, Diagnostic error, Failure to examine or evaluate patient properly, Unnecessary or excessive diagnostic tests


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 3


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



California – Neurology – Neck Pain, Extremity Weakness, And Numbness Diagnosed As Multiple Sclerosis



A 56-year-old female was referred by her primary care physician to a neurologist.  The patient’s primary care physician noted neck pain and numbness of the upper extremities, left greater than right, present for 1 year.  Her medications were lisinopril 5 mg daily, Lyrica 50 mg 3 times daily, Flexeril 10 mg 3 times daily, Mobic 15 mg daily, and Nexium 40 mg daily.  Her primary care physician noted that she had lumbar laminectomy for disk herniation in the past for low back pain and tingling of the left leg. He also noted that the MRI of her cervical spine was abnormal and requested a neurological evaluation.  It revealed an abnormal signal intensity C2-3 affecting posterior columns with the radiologist’s comment of “could account for arm numbness and tingling.” The x-ray of her cervical spine performed on 11/5/2012 ordered by her primary care physician showed moderate degenerative changes.  The x-ray of her lumbar spine performed on 2/23/2012 showed similar findings.

The neurologist first saw the patient on 12/10/2012 for the abnormal cervical spine MRI.  The patient’s complaints were “neck pain; left neck and arm numb; right arm and right knee; losing urine; and generalized weakness on the left.”  The patient also complained that she “also feels ‘dead’ hips down, [d]izzy spells several times, no energy, difficult to concentrate.” The neurologist noted the “neuro exam essentially normal.”  The neurologist’s diagnoses were demyelinating disease; paresthesias of face and her extremities, vertigo, and memory loss. The neurologist ordered the following tests: EMG/NCV lower extremities, though later she also did upper extremities; MRI of the brain; neuromuscular junction tests with EMG; BAER with vestibular testing; VEP; EEG, overnight; and EEG awake and sleep with digital analysis 95957.

The upper extremity EMG/NCV study was performed on 1/3/2013.  She tested 4 motor nerves, 5 sensory nerves, and F waves. The neurologist tested every muscle, which was present in the upper extremities.  The results of the study were normal.

The electrodiagnostic study of the lower extremities were performed on 1/10/2013.  The neurologist tested 4 motor nerves, 6 sensory nerves, 2 H reflexes, bilateral F waves of the motor nerves.  She did a needle EMG of all muscles in the lower extremities and paraspinal muscles. The results of the study were normal.

There was a report of a video-monitored EEG utilizing a 32-channel digital EEG system manufactured by Cadwell.  This test was performed on 12/26/2012. The report stated that the technician performed hyperventilation, but the patient reported she did not, and that the patient was videotaped, though the patient reported she was not.  It was read as normal.

The ambulatory EEG was performed on 2/5/2013 to 2/6/2013.  In the report, it was termed a 2-day ambulatory EEG despite lasting only 1 day.  The neurologist prepared the report. The report contained a printout of 1 page. It was timed 6:21 a.m., and it contained widespread artifacts lasting 10 seconds.  This was the exact time that the patient reported she stood in front of her microwaves. The neurologist read this as “Isolated sharp waves were noted in the frontal left hemispheric area. The isolated sharp waves may be epileptogenic in nature.”  The visual and brainstem auditory evoked potentials were normal.

On 2/26/2013, the neurologist saw the patient for a follow-up visit.  The test results were available to the neurologist at the visit. The neurologist noted that the EEG for the patient was normal for both awake and drowsy.  The neurologist also noted that the 2-day EEG, which lasted only 1 day and the MRI of the brain showed a corpus callosum lesion. Her assessment and plan contained the same diagnoses as the first visit of 12/10/2012, and she failed to consider new information that should have changed her initial diagnoses.

The neurologist did not diagnose seizures in the assessment and plan, but she prescribed Depakote.  The neurologist discussed with the patient that she met criteria for relapsing and remitting Multiple Sclerosis with an acute exacerbation.  The neurologist also noted that the patient had pain with neck movement, which was sharp and went to the toes. She believed that the symptom was consistent with the finding of the ambulatory EEG and thus started the patient on Depakote 500 mg b.i.d.  The neurologist failed to recognize Lhermitte’s sign, consistent with the myelopathy. The neurologist ordered laboratory studies for Lyme disease, lupus, and lumbar puncture. She ordered monitoring labs for Depakote, CBC, and liver function tests to be done before the next visit.

The MRI of the brain the neurologist referred to in the 2/26/2013 follow-up visit was performed at the neurologist’s request on 12/28/2012.  The report indicated 20 FLAIR hyperintensities and a possible tiny corpus callosum lesion. The neurologist concluded it was consistent with multiple sclerosis.  The 12/28/2012 report contained a comparison to a previous MRI of the brain performed on 7/1/2007. The radiologist thought the new MRI showed abnormalities “probably very slightly more numerous” than the 2007 MRI.  He further considered the appearance to be nonspecific, and the tiny lesion in the corpus callosum was considered possible.

The 2007 MRI was requested by another physician.  It was read as showing “a few nonspecific scattered punctate of unlikely clinical significance.”  Multiple sclerosis was not raised as a possible cause. Referring diagnosis was “recent vertigo and left-sided dizziness.”  The neurologist failed to question the patient on symptoms that occurred in 2007.

On 3/12/2013, the patient was seen in the emergency room for nausea and vomiting.  She was diagnosed with Depakote toxicity with a level of 108. She was told to stop the medication.  She was scheduled for the lumbar puncture the following day and was told to keep that appointment. The day following the lumbar puncture, she developed symptoms consistent with a postspinal headache.  She was seen by the neurologist in her office on the same day and diagnosed with Depakote toxicity. At this point, the neurologist erroneously believed that the patient had “definite” multiple sclerosis.  She also erroneously believed that “the patient wrongfully assumed” Depakote caused her symptoms and believed that they were from the lumbar puncture.

The neurologist next saw the patient on 3/26/2013 for an office visit.  The neurologist noted that the patient had a postspinal headache. She noted that the spinal fluid was negative for oligoclonal bands, but incorrectly thought the IgG synthesis was abnormal.  She incorrectly diagnosed “primary stabbing headache” despite her earlier entry of postspinal headache.

In a subsequent interview with a Medical Board investigator, the neurologist was questioned as to why she did not take a history of previous symptoms, such as optic neuritis, that help to establish a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.  She was questioned if the examination was normal and why she did not check the “saddle” area for sensory loss, and she reported, “Why should I check the saddle area?” There were no “incontinence of stools.” When asked if she would have documented Lhermitte’s symptom or sign if present, she answered yes.  She obtained a history of symptoms consistent with Lhermitte’s, but did not recognize it as such. Memory loss was given as a diagnosis, but when asked how it was based, she could not recall. When asked to explain the reasons that each test was ordered, she responded that the EMG was based on symptoms, the neuromuscular test was based on the possibility of myasthenia gravis causing general weakness, the BAER and VEP as part of the multiple sclerosis work-up, and the EEG to rule out seizures as the cause of numbness and weakness.  She stated video monitoring on EEG was standard practice. Hearing loss was her reason for performing the BAER, but no hearing loss or visual disturbance was documented. She stated that the 2007 MRI showed infratentorial and supratentorial lesions whereas there was no mention of an infratentorial lesion in the radiology report. She ordered the EMG of the upper extremities to “rule out any other diseases” and stated “EMG is part of differential diagnosis,” and the indication she believed was numbness and tingling in the hands. When asked why she did 24 upper extremity and 6 cervical paraspinal muscles on EMG, she stated she wanted to make sure there was “no polyradiculopathy,” but she admitted there were no findings to suggest that diagnosis.  Further, she believed that numbness and tingling and incontinence would indicate polyradiculopathy. When questioned regarding indications for EMG of the lower extremities, she stated back problems, numbness right arm and right knee, and feeling the hips on down were “dead.” In the lower extremities, she tested 12 different muscles and 6 paraspinal muscles. She was then questioned about what were the indications for the EEG, and she believed they were generalized weakness, dizzy spells, no energy to work, and difficulty focusing. She was questioned as to why the first EEG was not sufficient. She stated that on 2/26/2013 visit, she had findings of generalized seizure disorder, but this was not the wording in the EEG report nor was it in her letter to the Board.  She was not aware that a microwave can cause artifacts. Regarding indication for Depakote, her answer was because of the EEG and numbness and tingling. She thought it would be trial and error to see if it would help. She thought that the patient’s symptom of “neck killing her” would be consistent with a multiple sclerosis plaque. When asked why she ordered Lyme disease and lupus blood tests, she stated that they were “on my mind.”

The Medical Board of California judged that the neurologist’s conduct departed from the standard of care because she failed to recognize symptoms and findings on the MRI of a partial transverse cervical myelopathy, ordered an EMG for the upper and lower extremities, video EEG, and ambulatory EEG without medical indication, conducted an excessive number of nerve tests for any diagnosis, misdiagnosed epilepsy, lacked knowledge in reading EEGs, and had no knowledge and/or did not consider the important interaction between Depakote and the patient’s other medications.  The neurologist also lacked knowledge in several fundamental areas.  She failed to recognize symptoms of a partial transverse cervical myelopathy and Lhermitte’s symptoms even though it was described to her by the patient.  She did not recognize or, if she did, did not reflect in her records that almost all of the patient’s symptoms were caused by the cervical myelopathy. The neurologist erroneously believed that a multiple sclerosis plaque could cause severe neck pain and that IgG synthesis could indicate active or inactive multiple sclerosis.  She diagnosed multiple sclerosis on the basis of the McDonald criteria, and she included the original report, but she gave no information in her records how those criteria fit the patient. She failed to question the patient for previous symptoms, which might establish an initial exacerbation of multiple sclerosis. The neurologist was aware that the patient had an MRI in 2007 and did not question the patient regarding her symptoms at that time.  She ordered laboratory studies for possible Lyme disease or “lupus” and a monophasic cervical myelopathy despite the fact that it was exceedingly unlikely to be caused by any of those disorders. She failed to consider alternative causes for the patient’s presentation, specifically B12 deficiency or adrenomyeloneuropathy.

For this case and others, the Medical Board of California placed the neurologist on probation and ordered the neurologist to complete a medical record keeping course, a professionalism program (ethics course), an education course (at least 40 hours per year for each year of probation), and a clinical training program equivalent to the Physician Assessment and Clinical Education Program offered at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.  The neurologist was assigned a practice monitor and was prohibited from supervising physician assistants and advanced practice nurses.

State: California


Date: January 2018


Specialty: Neurology


Symptom: Head/Neck Pain, Dizziness, Headache, Nausea Or Vomiting, Numbness, Urinary Problems, Weakness/Fatigue


Diagnosis: Spinal Injury Or Disorder, Drug Overdose, Side Effects, or Withdrawal


Medical Error: Diagnostic error, Failure to examine or evaluate patient properly, Unnecessary or excessive diagnostic tests, Improper medication management


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 4


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Florida – Family Medicine – Treatment Of Elevated Blood Pressure And Headaches From Illicit Testosterone Injections



On 2/17/2014, a male patient in his early twenties presented to a family practitioner for medical assessment and/or treatment.

On 2/17/2014, the patient disclosed to the family practitioner that he was obtaining injectable testosterone from a source unknown to the family practitioner.  The patient indicated that he was utilizing the testosterone for bodybuilding purposes.

On 2/17/2014, the patient reported to the family practitioner that he was suffering from headaches and elevated blood pressure.

On 2/17/2014, the family practitioner surmised that the patient’s symptoms were likely the result of excess estrogen production secondary to the patient’s high-dose testosterone use.

On 2/17/2014, the family practitioner wrote the patient a prescription for Anastrozole, an estrogen-blocking substance.

On 2/20/2014, the patient presented to the family practitioner for medical assessment and/or treatment.  The family practitioner continued the patient on Anastrozole.

In February 2014, the family practitioner did not obtain or review any medical records establishing that the patient was experiencing excess estrogen production.  He also did not obtain bloodwork or perform other diagnostic testing to confirm whether the patient was experiencing excess estrogen production.

On 4/6/2014, the patient presented to the family practitioner for medical assessment and/or treatment.  The patient reported to the family practitioner that he was continuing to use testosterone, and that he was continuing to experience headaches.  The family practitioner surmised that the patient’s ongoing headaches were caused by elevated prolactin levels.  The family practitioner wrote the patient a prescription for Cabergoline, a prolactin-blocking substance.

On 4/10/2014, the patient presented to the family practitioner for medical assessment and/or treatment.  The family practitioner continued the patient on Cabergoline.

In April 2014, the family practitioner did not obtain or review any medical records establishing that the patient was experiencing elevated prolactin levels.  He did not obtain bloodwork or perform other diagnostic testing to confirm whether the patient was experiencing elevated prolactin levels.

On one or more occasions between 6/27/2014, and 1/9/2015, the family practitioner prescribed the following substances to the patient: clindamycin, Bactroban ointment, doxycycline, Zithromax, oral prednisone, Neurontin, and diazepam.  On one or more occasions in 2015, the family practitioner also prescribed the patient Anastrozole.

The family practitioner did not keep any contemporaneous medical records regarding the medical assessment and/or treatment that he provided to the patient between 2/17/2014 and 1/9/2015.

To the extent that the family practitioner had medical records regarding the medical assessment and/or treatment that he provided to the patient between 2/17/2014 to 1/9/2015, such records were all created in October 2015.

The Medical Board of Florida issued a letter of concern against the family practitioner’s license.  The Medical Board of Florida ordered that the family practitioner pay a fine of $8,000 and pay reimbursement costs for the case at a minimum of $1,457.57 and not to exceed $3,457.57.  The Medical Board of Florida ordered that the family practitioner complete a drug course, a medical records course, and five hours of continuing medical education in “risk management.”

State: Florida


Date: December 2017


Specialty: Family Medicine, Endocrinology, Internal Medicine


Symptom: Headache


Diagnosis: Drug Overdose, Side Effects, or Withdrawal


Medical Error: Failure to order appropriate diagnostic test, Improper medication management, Lack of proper documentation


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 2


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Florida – Psychiatry – Lithium Administration With Lisinopril And Hydrochlorothiazide



On 12/7/2016, a 30-year-old female was admitted to University Behavioral Center (“UBC”) while suffering from acute psychotic symptoms and was placed under a psychiatrist’s care.  The patient remained under the psychiatrist’s care at UBC for approximately eleven days.

On the day of the patient’s admission, the psychiatrist began treating the patient with lithium.  The psychiatrist continued treating the patient with lithium until 12/17/2016.

The patient had previously been prescribed lisinopril (an ACE inhibitor) and hydrochlorothiazide (a thiazide diuretic) for hypertension.  The psychiatrist continued treating the patient with hydrochlorothiazide until 12/16/2016.  The psychiatrist continued treating the patient with lisinopril for the duration of her stay at UBC.

During the course of the patient’s confinement at UBC, her condition worsened, and she experienced incontinence and increasing levels of confusion.  After falling in the shower on 12/18/2016, the patient was transferred to a hospital for medical treatment, where it was determined that the patient was experiencing lithium toxicity.  As a result of the lithium toxicity, the patient suffered kidney failure, which required dialysis.

The Board judged the psychiatrist’s conduct to be below the minimum standard of competence given that she should have been aware of the potential drug interactions with lithium and to prescribe alternative antipsychotic drug to a patient taking both a thiazide diuretic and an ACE inhibitor, as each of these drugs has a known interaction with lithium which presents risk of lithium toxicity.  The psychiatrist also failed to monitor the patient for signs of lithium toxicity, and she failed to immediately discontinue treatment with lithium when the patient began experiencing symptoms of lithium toxicity.

It was requested that the Board order one or more of the following penalties for the psychiatrist: permanent revocation or suspension of her license, restriction of practice, imposition of an administrative fine, issuance of a reprimand, probation, corrective action, payment of fees, remedial education, and/or any other relief that the Board deemed appropriate.

State: Florida


Date: December 2017


Specialty: Psychiatry


Symptom: Psychiatric Symptoms, Confusion, Urinary Problems


Diagnosis: Drug Overdose, Side Effects, or Withdrawal


Medical Error: Improper medication management, Failure to properly monitor patient


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 3


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Florida – Family Medicine – Patient With Kidney Stone Started On Morphine Along With Fluoxetine And Promethazine



A 27-year-old female was a patient of a family practitioner.  On 2/11/2014, the patient started complaining to the family practitioner about a potential kidney stone.

The family practitioner had records indicating that the patient was being treated with tramadol, Percocet, fluoxetine, and promethazine.

On 5/12/2014, the family practitioner prescribed morphine 60 mg, extended release, to the patient, to be taken twice a day, but the family practitioner never adequately documented medical justification for the prescription.  The standard starting dose for morphine is 15 mg every eight to twelve hours.

The patient was also taking fluoxetine and promethazine and the family practitioner signed a CVS form indicating the patient could start morphine despite possible contraindications.

The family practitioner did not take additional precautions to monitor the patient, despite her taking fluoxetine and promethazine in combination with morphine.

At 5:25 p.m. on 5/14/2014, the patient’s husband found her unresponsive in the bedroom and 911 was called immediately.

The patient ultimately was transported to a hospital and diagnosed with poisoning by opiates and related narcotics.

The Board judged the family practitioners conduct to be below the minimum standard of competence given his failure to prescribe morphine for medically justified reasons.  The family practitioner failed to start with an initial dose of morphine at 15 mg every eight to twelve hours.  The family practitioner failed to take additional precautions regarding monitoring for central nervous system or respiratory depression when the morphine was prescribed with the fluoxetine and promethazine.  The Board judged that the family practitioner failed to adequately create or maintain medical records that justified the course of treatment for the patient.

The Board ordered that the family practitioner have a reprimand against his license.  The Board ordered that the family physician pay a fine against his license of $7,500 and that the family practitioner pay reimbursement costs for the case between a minimum of $820.04 and a maximum of $2,820.04.  The Board ordered that the family practitioner complete a drug prescribing course and a medical records course and that the family practitioner complete five hours of continuing medical education in nephrology.

State: Florida


Date: November 2017


Specialty: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine


Symptom: Abdominal Pain


Diagnosis: Drug Overdose, Side Effects, or Withdrawal, Renal Disease


Medical Error: Improper medication management, Lack of proper documentation


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 3


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



California – Obstetrics – Induction For A Patient With A Bishop Score Of 4 And Continued Pitocin Use Despite Fetal Heart Tracing Abnormalities



A 24-year-old female was transferred from a physician to an obstetrician.  The patient first saw the obstetrician on 6/24/2009, and she was due with her first child in July 2009.  Her patient chart listed her at 120 lbs and 4’0” tall, but when she came to see the obstetrician, she weighed 170 lbs.

The patient was seen by the obstetrician twice in June and every week in July until 7/27/2009.  The patient was scheduled to be induced 7/29/2009. There was nothing in the records about her bony pelvic exam or pelvic adequacy for vaginal delivery.  The obstetrician did not do an ultrasound. The patient was admitted to the hospital on 7/29/2009. There was no risk assessment, no estimate fetal size, no ultrasound ordered, and a Bishop score of 4.

The patient was started on Pitocin at 9:30 a.m. and had made no progress by 6:00 p.m. that evening.  The patient was allowed to rest, and the next morning, on 7/30/2009 at 7:30 a.m., Pitocin was started again.  During this time, it was noted that she had “reactive” fetal heart tracings. The nurses did not place an order for an internal fetal monitor.  When the fetal heart tones were low, the Pitocin should be turned off. If the mother keeps having contractions, the baby gets no rest, which is what likely occurred in this case.

At 8:18 p.m., she was only dilated 4-5 cm.  The patient had spontaneous rupture of the membranes with thick meconium noticed.  At 8:50 p.m., the patient was dilated to 8 cm, 0 station. There was no mention of a possible Cesarean section in the notes.  On 7/31/2009, a female infant weighing 9 lbs 5 oz was delivered using a vacuum because a shoulder dystocia was encountered. Unfortunately, the baby was deceased.

The Medical Board of California judged that the obstetrician’s conduct departed from the standard of care because he failed to estimate the fetal size, fetal lie, and pelvic adequacy.  The obstetrician also did not mention the application of a fetal electrode. This is important because the obstetrician did not know if the heart rate was coming from the mother or the baby; thus, an internal electrode would have been an accurate way to measure the baby’s heart rate.  Review of the fetal monitor strips showed back to back contractions and inadequate recordings. During labor and delivery, Pitocin should have been stopped in the contractions showed a low fetal heart rate and tachysystole (no rest between contractions). This patient was also a poor candidate for induction because she had a Bishop score of 4.  When the membranes were ruptured with 3+ meconium, this should have alerted the obstetrician that the baby was somehow compromised and action by the obstetrician was required. Also, the patient was a transfer patient, but the obstetrician did not order lab studies or an ultrasound. There were many errors which lead to the untimely demise of this baby.  Had there been an estimate of fetal weight, or an ultrasound performed within 6 weeks of induction of labor, the obstetrician would have known the patient was having a big baby, and the obstetrician might have performed a Cesarean section.

The Medical Board of California issued a public reprimand and ordered the obstetrician to complete a clinical competence assessment program.

State: California


Date: November 2017


Specialty: Obstetrics


Symptom: N/A


Diagnosis: Obstetrical Complication


Medical Error: Failure to examine or evaluate patient properly, Failure to order appropriate diagnostic test, Failure to properly monitor patient, Improper treatment, Improper medication management


Significant Outcome: Death


Case Rating: 4


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Washington – Internal Medicine – Proper Monitoring Of Thyroid Dysfunction And High Blood Pressure



Beginning in June 2014, a physician began treating Patients A and B for thyroid dysfunction and Patient C for high blood pressure. The physician communicated with Patient A and B through phone consultation and met Patient C in social situations and during at least two office visits. The physician reviewed previous lab work on thyroid functions for Patients A and B. The physician based Patient C’s treatment upon his physical observation of her conditions, two Zytoscans (device that measures electrical currents in the skin), and taking her blood pressure. Patient A and B’s lab work indicated both patients having lower than normal thyroid function. The physician started both Patients A and B on a thyroid hormone supplement. He prescribed medication commonly used for treating high blood pressure for Patient C based upon his observations, oral reports of Patient C, and the Zytoscans. The physician failed to do lab work, took minimal chart notes, and did not schedule follow-up examinations for Patients A, B, or C.

For several months, the physician continued prescribing for Patients A, B, and C without ever seeing the patients in person for further work up. The physician’s interactions with Patients A and B were solely over the phone, while the physician notes state that he had two office visits with Patient C. The physician did not order thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) testing to further verify if continuing the thyroid hormone supplement would be appropriate in managing Patient A and B’s conditions.

In June 2015, Patient A presented to another provider with concerns of heart palpitations. Patient A told the provider he noticed the palpitations reduced when he reduced his thyroid hormone supplement dosage. During this consultation, Patient A disclosed his treatment with the physician which alerted the provider to have Patient A’s TSH levels checked. Patient A’s lower than normal TSH result prompted the provider to immediately begin weaning Patient A off of his thyroid hormone supplement.

Patient B also presented to the same provider in June 2015. At her visit, Patient B presented with a rash on her chest which she had for over a month. The new provider assessed the rash being unrelated to her treatment with the physician; however, due to her receiving similar treatment as Patient A, the provider had Patient B’s TSH level tested. Patient B’s results indicated her TSH level was below the normal range.

On 8/26/2015, the physician saw Patient C for what he thought was a urinary tract infection. The physician first prescribed Keflex but changed it to ciprofloxacin based upon the results of a Zytoscan. Caution is required when giving ciprofloxacin to patients with hypokalemia.

On or about 9/9/2015, Patient C presented to the hospital emergency department where she was diagnosed with significant hypokalemia (lowered levels of potassium in the blood) and hyponatremia (lowered levels of sodium in the blood) which caused Patient C to suffer fatigue and heart palpitations. Patient C went immediately from the emergency department to a new care provider. After an oral interview with Patient C, the new care provider learned that Patient C was taking a number of medications prescribed by the physician. The new care provider attempted to contact the physician a number of times to obtain the physician’s chart notes, lab studies, and other medical records for Patient C but was unsuccessful. Patient C told her new care provider that the physician had been giving her medications for a number of years. She stated, “I tell him what I need.” In the physician’s response to the Commission, he stated that “if [Patient C] called me to have a prescription filled, I would do that for her.”

The Commission stipulated the physician reimburse costs to the Commission and write and submit a paper of at least 2000 words, with references and annotated bibliography, regarding Washington State rules for physicians forming and maintaining patient/physician relationships, the differential diagnosis of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, the proper monitoring of electrolyte levels for patients with high blood pressure, and the importance of complying with Commission sanctions.

State: Washington


Date: November 2017


Specialty: Internal Medicine, Family Medicine


Symptom: Palpitations, Rash


Diagnosis: Endocrine Disease


Medical Error: Failure to follow up, Failure to properly monitor patient, Improper medication management


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 1


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Virginia – Psychiatry – Adjusting Lithium Dosage Based Only On Patient Symptoms



A psychiatrist increased and decrease a patient’s lithium dosage based on the patient’s symptoms.  She did not test the patient’s lithium blood serum level.

On 8/28/2015, the patient was admitted to a hospital for lithium toxicity.  The psychiatrist stated that lithium blood serum levels for long-term lithium patients should be tested at least annually, but also at any time a patient complains of adverse side effects.  The psychiatrist admitted her failure to test the patient’s lithium levels and stated that it “was an inadvertent oversight for which [she] is remorseful.”  The psychiatrist reported that following the patient’s hospitalization for lithium toxicity, she reviewed the charts for her other patients on lithium and determined if they needed testing for lithium blood serum levels.

She provided evidence that she completed 99 hours of CME in psychiatry in 2015 and 58 credit hours of CME in psychiatry in 2017.  She provided a spreadsheet that she created for use in monitoring her patients on lithium.  She was reprimanded by the Virginia Board of Medicine.

State: Virginia


Date: October 2017


Specialty: Psychiatry


Symptom: N/A


Diagnosis: Drug Overdose, Side Effects, or Withdrawal, Psychiatric Disorder


Medical Error: Improper medication management, Failure to properly monitor patient


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 2


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Florida – Interventional Radiology – Epidural Steroid Injection On A Patient Taking Plavix



On 1/21/2014, an 85-year-old female was admitted to the hospital with complaints of lower back pain and chest pain.

The patient’s medication list, at the time of her admission, listed a prescription for 75 mg of Plavix daily.

On 1/23/2014, a radiologist performed an epidural steroid injection on the patient while she was taking Plavix.  Shortly after the procedure, the patient developed an abrupt sudden onset of diffuse abdominal pain with nausea, vomiting, and a large retroperitoneal hematoma extending from the left upper abdomen into the pelvis.

The patient had a stroke, among other complications.

The Board judged the radiologists conduct to be below the minimal standard of competence given that he performed an epidural injection on a patient while the patient had been receiving antiplatelet therapy for a significant period of time.

It was requested that the Board order one or more of the following penalties for the radiologist: permanent revocation or suspension of his license, restriction of practice, imposition of an administrative fine, issuance of a reprimand, probation, corrective action, payment of fees, remedial education, and/or any other relief that the Board deemed appropriate.

State: Florida


Date: October 2017


Specialty: Interventional Radiology


Symptom: Back Pain, Nausea Or Vomiting, Chest Pain


Diagnosis: Drug Overdose, Side Effects, or Withdrawal


Medical Error: Improper medication management


Significant Outcome: Permanent Loss Of Functional Status Or Organ


Case Rating: 4


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Florida – Internal Medicine – Failure To Justify Suboxone Prescribing Practices



From 7/8/2011 to 8/13/2015, an internist treated a 37-year-old female with an opioid dependency for seven years with Suboxone therapy.  During the treatment period, the internist prescribed the controlled substance Suboxone to the patient on one or more occasions.  During the treatment period, the internist failed to substantiate, by test or positive exam, the patient’s history of opiate use to justify the use of Suboxone.

During the treatment period, the internist did not obtain a history of substance abuse, including illicit substances, or a complete medical history from the patient’s prior healthcare provider to support his diagnosis of opioid dependence and opiate withdrawal.

During the treatment period, the internist inappropriately diagnosed the patient, as his physical examination of the patient failed to indicate clinical opiate withdrawal symptoms, to help support his diagnosis of continuous opioid dependence and opiate withdrawal.

During the treatment period, the internist failed to perform tests, including screening for hepatitis B and C, complete metabolic panel, and complete blood count, to completely assess the patient’s condition.

During the treatment period, the internist failed to completely and accurately maintain medical records that justify Suboxone therapy as a proper course of treatment.

During the treatment period, the internist failed to document a clear treatment plan and time frame for detoxification, and/or thoroughly educate the patient about additional recovery.

During the treatment period, the internist failed to perform and/or maintain records of frequent urine toxicology for the patient to prevent noncompliance, dependence, addition, or diversion of controlled substances.

During the treatment period, the internist failed to document, incorporate in the medical records, or comment on all urine toxicology screens performed on the patient on one or more occasions.

During the treatment period, the internist failed to include all logs of prescriptions within his electronic medical record (“EMR”).

During the treatment period, the internist did not pursue, or document pursuing, psychological counseling, prescription drug monitoring (“PDMP”) and follow-up urine toxicology screens to guide optimal therapy.

It was requested that the Board order one or more of the following penalties for the internist: permanent revocation or suspension of his license, restriction of practice, imposition of an administrative fine, issuance of a reprimand, probation, corrective action, payment of fees, remedial education, and/or any other relief that the Board deemed appropriate.

State: Florida


Date: October 2017


Specialty: Internal Medicine


Symptom: N/A


Diagnosis: Drug Overdose, Side Effects, or Withdrawal


Medical Error: Failure to properly monitor patient, Failure to order appropriate diagnostic test, Failure of communication with patient or patient relations, Improper medication management, Lack of proper documentation


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 1


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



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