Found 412 Results Sorted by Case Date
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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



California – Neurology – Lack Of Documentation When Diagnosing Neuropathic Pain, RLS, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome With Normal Neurological Examination



A 43-year-old male was referred by his primary care physician to a neurologist for multiple medical issues, including obesity, chronic post-operative pain following lumbar spine surgery, major depressive disorder, familial tremor, shoulder pain, excessive daytime sleepiness, congestive heart failure, and peripheral neuropathy.  The patient had been on Norco and was switched to Tramadol. The dose of Tramadol was 100 mg 4 times a day. Other medications were trazodone 100 mg h.s., zolpidem 10 mg h.s., HCTZ 25 mg, Lasix 40 mg, Flomax 0.5 mg, and topiramate 100 mg twice daily.

On 3/27/2014, the neurologist saw the patient for an office visit.  The patient complained of symptoms of foot pain, burning, and restless leg syndrome (RLS) symptoms.  The neurologist diagnosed neuropathic pain, RLS, obesity, carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain, and tremor.  She planned to do B12 and ferritin levels, and she recommended an EMG/NCV of both upper and lower extremities.  The neurologist noted a normal neurological examination. Despite the normal neurological examination, the neurologist failed to keep adequate documentation to establish her multiple diagnoses.  She coded the visit as a level 5 new patient evaluation. The neurologist failed to document her 14-point review of systems and other required examinations to substantiate level 5 billing.

During a subsequent interview with the Medical Board, the neurologist initially stated that she had no recollection of the patient.  Her medical report timed the office visit at 9:15, and the encounter ended at 11:11 a.m., approximately 2 hours. She stated that she spent 40 minutes with him.  She could not account for the other time. She stated that “the rest was not me” and that she did not know what the time was “in between.” The patient claimed that she asked him only to stand and to try to stand on his heels and to squeeze her fingers.  When asked why she ordered the EMG, she answered, “For neuropathy versus radiculopathy versus carpal tunnel syndrome could have CDIP.” She did not know what a Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) report was.

The Medical Board of California judged that the neurologist’s conduct departed from the standard of care because she failed to keep accurate, timely, complete medical records to support her diagnoses, coded and billed for level 5 services not substantiated in her records, and was not aware of CURES reports and did not utilize it in her practice.

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: Extremity Pain, Back Pain, Joint Pain, Psychiatric Symptoms


Diagnosis: Neurological Disease


Medical Error: Lack of proper documentation, Procedural error


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 1


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



California – Neurology – Three EEGs Ordered Without Indication And Diagnosis Of Epilepsy



A 9-year-old girl was referred by her pediatrician to a child neurologist for headaches.  The child neurologist first saw the patient on 9/10/2009. The patient’s mother stated that the patient’s headaches started in 7/20/2009.  The patient had no episodes of loss of consciousness of any type. The child neurologist’s review of systems revealed headaches, neck pain, and back pain.  The child neurologist noted headaches following a viral infection in July 2009 described as constant tension and pressure with nausea, photophobia, and difficulty concentration.  The child neurologist’s diagnosis was childhood migraine and prescribed 10 mg amitriptyline. The child neurologist ordered an MRI to rule out neoplasm and aneurysms. The child neurologist also ordered an EEG, which was not indicated for headaches.

On 9/18/2009, the EEG was performed.  The technician described the EEG with “sharp and slow waves.” On 9/30/2009, the child neurologist saw the patient for an office visit.  The child neurologist read the EEG as showing “generalized polyspike and wave which was synchronous bilaterally over both hemispheres which is highly suggestive of a generalized seizure disorder.”  The child neurologist stopped the amitriptyline 10 mg she prescribed at the last visit because of “seizures on EEG.” She ordered a neurosurgery consult and planned a separate meeting with the mother.

The child neurologist next saw the patient on 11/4/2009.  The child neurologist prescribed Depakote at 250 b.i.d. The patient’s Depakote level was at 72.  The patient reported no seizures or auras, but the child neurologist in her diagnosis documented “seizures, breakthrough.”  The child neurologist ordered a second video EEG with computer analysis without medical indication. The EEG was performed on 11/25/2009.  The technician report showed no abnormality. The child neurologist’s report was of generalized polyspike and slow waves bilaterally, “highly suggestive of generalized epilepsy,” with localized slowing in the left temporal area.

On 2/11/2010, the child neurologist saw the patient for a follow-up visit.  The chief complaint was learning difficulty. The Depakote level was 53. The patient denied experiencing any auras and/or any seizures.  On the next visit, on 5/11/2010, the patient still did not report any auras or seizures. The child neurologist’s diagnoses were generalized epilepsy, childhood headaches, adverse effect of medication, and learning disability.  The child neurologist ordered a third video EEG with computer analysis to rule out seizures and BAER (brainstem auditory evoked response) to rule out hearing loss, despite no medical indication. The video EEG was performed on 6/28/2010 and was normal.  On 7/12/2010, the child neurologist saw the patient for a follow-up visit. The patient denied having headaches and seizures. The child neurologist ordered a 72-hour ambulatory EEG despite the normal EEG.

The child neurologist next saw the patient on 1/19/2011 for a follow-up visit.  The patient’s mother complained that the patient’s math and history test results were still low.  The patient had no witnessed seizures and was tolerating Keppra well. Despite the negative findings, the child neurologist diagnosed “seizures, breakthrough, rule out.”  The child neurologist ordered another video EEG. At this point in time, the 72-hour video EEG she previous ordered on 7/12/2010 had not been performed.

On 2/18/2011, a 72-hour ambulatory EEG was performed.  The child neurologist’s last visit with the patient was on 3/14/2011.  On the last visit, the child neurologist noted that the 72-hour ambulatory EEG was normal.  She discontinued Keppra. She diagnosed the patient with “arachnoid cyst, middle cranial fossa; generalized epilepsy; learning disability; and adverse effect of medication given correctly.”

The Medical Board of California judged that the child neurologist’s conduct departed from the standard of care because she ordered 3 video EEGs and an ambulatory EEG without medical indication, ordered a BAER with no medical indication, misdiagnosed epilepsy on a patient with no medical history of seizures of any type, and made diagnoses of breaththrough seizures with no basis, contrary to her own findings that were no auras or seizures reported.

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, Nausea Or Vomiting, Back Pain, Head/Neck Pain


Diagnosis: N/A


Medical Error: Unnecessary or excessive diagnostic tests, False positive


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 2


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



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 – Interventional Radiology – Pain And Cold Foot After Arteriogram, Angioplasty, And Atherectomy



On 6/26/2015, a patient presented to an interventional radiologist’s outpatient clinic for a left lower extremity arteriogram and intervention for a thrombosed left lower extremity bypass graft, originally placed in 2007.  The patient had an extensive medical history including a renal transplant, diabetes, right leg amputation, and multiple revascularization procedures, including prior thrombectomies of the left lower extremity graft.

The patient reportedly had pain both at rest and with activity, and had a cold left leg prior to and immediately before the procedure.  In order to improve blood flow in the patient’s left leg, the interventional radiologist performed an arteriogram, angioplasty, tPA administration, atherectomy, and stent placement within the left lower extremity, including an attempt to revascularize the native superficial femoral artery.

Images show an initially thrombosed femoral artery to popliteal bypass graft and deep femoral artery.  Further images show balloons inflated in various parts of the graft and native arteries.  Final images show flow through a patent common femoral artery (CFA), bypass graft, and peroneal and anterior tibial arteries.  The deep femoral artery appeared occluded shortly beyond its origin.

After the procedure, a nurse noted the patient’s foot was cold.  The interventional radiologist also assessed the patient post-procedure and found the foot to be cold, both two (2) and four (4) hours post-procedure.  The interventional radiologist recommended to the patient that she travel to the emergency department of a university hospital.

The patient was then driven by her companion two hours to the emergency department, where she was assessed by an ED physician and a vascular surgeon.  She was taken to the operating room where she underwent surgery, which included a left leg above-the-knee amputation and a deep femoral artery thrombectomy.

The Board stated that the standard of care for an interventional radiologist when performing an intervention is to recognize complications and to take appropriate steps to manage them.  Although the patient’s foot was reportedly cold and painful immediately post-procedure, it can take some time for the foot to warm, and pain could be caused by reperfusion.  However, it is clear that two to four hours after the procedure, the interventional radiologist recognized that the patient’s leg had not improved and was worsening and that further care was needed.  Thus, when it became clear to the interventional radiologist that the foot was not improving, he recommended that the patient seek more treatment.

The records of the interventional radiologist’s care of the patient were inadequate in that they do not state whether the patient’s clinical status post-procedure was worse than before the procedure.  A post-procedure pulse examination was lacking which would have helped in determining the patient’s clinical status.

The patient reported to the ED physician that the pain began after the procedure and steadily worsened, which indicates that the patient rethrombosed her bypass graft and deep femoral artery (source of collateral flow) immediately.  This event should have been recognized by the interventional radiologist.

However, the interventional radiologist’s documentation for this patient was inadequate and sparse.  The medical records lacked documentation of the change in the patient’s status post-procedure, the discussion with the patient leading up to the discharge from his center, and the patient’s disposition.  The interventional radiologist discharged the patient to her own care directly from his clinic instead of calling Emergency Medical Services (EMS), which indicates that the interventional radiologist failed to recognize the gravity of what was occurring.

His conduct did not ensure that the patient would be attended continuously until definitive treatment was given.  The patient arrived at the emergency department at approximately 8:00 p.m., two hours after the patient was discharged from the interventional radiologist’s clinic.

Had the process of discharge and transfer occurred earlier, it is possible that the outcome could have been different.  The interventional radiologist failed to communicate with the ED physician ahead of the patient’s arrival.  The interventional radiologist gave the patient a CD of the procedure, a copy of the medical records, and his phone number, as an attempt of communicating with the emergency department personnel regarding the events that occurred at the interventional radiologist’s clinic.

However, the interventional radiologist failed to telephone the ED physicians at the emergency department to give a verbal report on the patient and to provide a more informative transition and preparation for continued care.  In expecting the practitioners at the emergency department to call the interventional radiologist to gain more information, the interventional radiologist improperly sought to shift his responsibility to provide needed information about the patient to the staff at the emergency department.

The interventional radiologist failed to maintain documentation regarding the change in the patient’s status post-procedure, the discussion leading up to the discharge from his center, and the patient’s disposition.  He stated that he was not sure if he documented these events, and if he did, he sent them with the patient.  Documentation sent with the patient has since been lost.  Documentation of a change in the patient’s clinical status was lacking.  The medical records lacked documentation of what was discussed regarding the patient’s disposition and where she was told to go for further care.

The Board judged the interventional radiologist’s conduct to have fallen below the standard of care for the following reasons:

1) The interventional radiologist failed to offer to transport the patient by ambulance or EMS services to ensure that she would be attended continuously until definitive treatment was given. His failure to do so indicates that he failed to understand the gravity of the situation which was occurring.

2) The interventional radiologist failed to adequately communicate with the emergency department, to call ahead of time to inform them that the patient was in transit, and to inform them of the circumstances.

3) The interventional radiologist failed to maintain adequate and accurate records.

The Board issued a public reprimand.

State: California


Date: December 2017


Specialty: Interventional Radiology, Vascular Surgery


Symptom: Extremity Pain


Diagnosis: Acute Ischemic Limb, Post-operative/Operative Complication


Medical Error: Diagnostic error, Delay in proper treatment, Underestimation of likelihood or severity, Failure of communication with other providers, Lack of proper documentation


Significant Outcome: Permanent Loss Of Functional Status Or Organ


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



California – Family Practice – Providing Medical Clearance For A Tummy Tuck Procedure



A family practitioner cleared a patient for a tummy tuck procedures.  The patient had a history of sickle cell anemia and a respiratory infection.

The Board judged the family practitioner’s conduct as having fallen below the minimum level of competence given failure to address the status of the patient’s sickle cell anemia and failure to assess the patient’s respiratory infection.

The Board issued a public letter of reprimand.

State: California


Date: October 2017


Specialty: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine


Symptom: N/A


Diagnosis: Hematological Disease, Infectious Disease


Medical Error: Improper treatment


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 1


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



California – Radiology – Back Pain With Subsequent MRI And Missed Incidental Finding



In 2009, a patient with a history of smoking developed back pain.  Her primary care physician sent her to a hospital for two MRIs of her spine: one on 3/9/2009 and another on 4/13/2009.  Radiologist A at the hospital obtained the MRI images and sent them to a teleradiology company for review.  Radiologist B at the teleradiology company reviewed the MRIs.  Neither of his reports mentioned any lung abnormalities.

In 2010, the patient developed a cough and was sent to the hospital for a chest x-ray.  Radiologist A reviewed the x-ray and reported that he found no significant pathology.

After suffering from continued bouts of coughing, the patient was sent to the hospital for another chest x-ray in 2012.  Radiologist A reviewed the x-ray and reported that he found no significant pathology.

In 2013, Radiologist A received a chest x-ray for asthma.  Radiologist A reviewed the x-ray and found a mass on the patient’s right lung.  Radiologist A recommended that the patient undergo a computed tomography (CT) scan.  The CT scan revealed a 4.8 by 2.5 centimeter mass, which was subsequently identified as cancerous.  The patient was diagnosed with unresectable Stage IIIA non-small cell lung cancer metastatic to the lymph nodes.  The patient underwent 33 radiation treatments and multiple rounds of chemotherapy.

In January 2014, the patient filed a complaint against Radiologist A and Radiologist B asserting medical malpractice.  She claimed that her lung cancer diagnosis was delayed by four years given failure to detect the mass when they reviewed her MRIs and chest x-rays.

In November 2015, prior to the start of the trial, the patient began to have breathing issues, balance problems, dizziness, and difficulty with memory.  On 11/3/2015, her primary care physician ordered a CT scan, which revealed that the cancer had metastasized to her brain.

On 11/13/2015, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the patient with liability spread equally among Radiologist A and Radiologist B.  The jury awarded the patient a total of $3 million.

The California Board issued a public reprimand against Radiologist B given his failure to report the medical malpractice case to the Hawaiian Board.

State: California


Date: October 2017


Specialty: Radiology


Symptom: Cough, Back Pain


Diagnosis: Lung Cancer


Medical Error: False negative


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 2


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



California – Gynecology – High Grade Dysplasia Scheduled For Follow Up In 6 Months



On 12/31/2013, a 27-year-old female had a pap smear that showed Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance (ASCUS) with a positive showing for HPV.  On 1/30/2014, the patient presented to a gynecologist for colposcopy. Biopsies confirmed Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN) 2 at two biopsy sites, and CIN 1 at a single biopsy site with an insufficient endocervical curettage (ECC).

On 2/10/2014, the patient again presented to the gynecologist for a follow-up examination.  The gynecologist diagnosed the patient with Moderate Cervical Dysplasia, CIN 2, and advised the patient to follow-up in 1 year with a PAP/HPV examination.  On 2/28/2014, after speaking with a colleague, the gynecologist telephoned the patient and advised the patient to return in 6 months for an examination of the abnormal PAP.

The Medical Board of California judged that the gynecologist’s conduct departed from the standard of care because she failed to follow-up with the patient sooner than 6-12 months, and in light of the inadequate ECC, failed to proceed with either a diagnostic excisional procedure or an excision/ablation procedure to treat the high grade dysplasia known to the gynecologist.

The Medical Board of California issued a public reprimand and ordered the obstetrician to complete an education course (at least 15 hours) dedicated in the area of diagnosis and patient care in OB/GYN cases.

State: California


Date: August 2017


Specialty: Gynecology


Symptom: N/A


Diagnosis: Gynecological Disease


Medical Error: Delay in diagnosis


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 2


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



California – Gynecology – Blood With Urination Not Due To Bleeding From Bladder Or Kidneys



On 4/5/2015, an 80-year-old female presented to a gynecologist with a complaint of pink drainage with urination.  The patient had a prior cystoscopy and a CT through the urology department, which was negative for hematuria. The gynecologist conducted an examination of the patient and noted: (1) no blood in the vagina; and (2) that the vaginal epithelium was atrophic.  The gynecologist did not order a pelvic ultrasound of the patient. The gynecologist failed to evaluate any postmenopausal bleeding with either an endometrial biopsy or an ultrasound of the uterus, and she failed to order or conduct any assessment to exclude malignancy.

On 2/21/2014, the patient was seen by a urologist for continued hematuria.  Cystoscopy was performed and revealed no bleeding from the bladder or kidneys.  On 2/25/2014, the patient was seen by another gynecologist who ordered a pelvic ultrasound that ultimately showed an intrauterine vascular mass.  On 3/3/2014, an endometrial biopsy was performed on the patient by a different provider, which showed adenocarcinoma.

The Medical Board of California judged that the gynecologist’s conduct departed from the standard of care because she failed to evaluate any postmenopausal bleeding with either an endometrial biopsy or an ultrasound of the uterus and to order or conduct any assessment to exclude malignancy.

The Medical Board of California issued a public reprimand and ordered the obstetrician to complete an education course (at least 15 hours) dedicated in the area of diagnosis and patient care in OB/GYN cases.

State: California


Date: August 2017


Specialty: Gynecology


Symptom: Bleeding


Diagnosis: Gynecological (Endometrial, Ovarian, Cervical) Cancer


Medical Error: Failure to order appropriate diagnostic test


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 3


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



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