Newark-based physician’s medical license suspended after 55 alleged malpractice cases
Published: Monday, March 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
The Delaware Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline suspended the medical license of Newark-based Muhammed Niaz on March 5 due to 55 alleged cases of malpractice, including one case that may have led to the death of his patient, according to a formal complaint filed by the state. The board was particularly interested in the doctor’s prescriptions to pregnant women, which caused babies to be born with substance addictions.
According to a March 5 press release from the Delaware Department of State, the suspension, totaling three years, is a result of “unlawful prescribing practices,” and includes a $5,000 fine as well as a required 12-hour educational training on drug addiction and abuse. In the press release, Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock said Niaz’s conduct warranted the stiff penalties that were handed out.
“Dr. Niaz’s conduct demonstrates a willful disregard for professional responsibility to protect patients and the community from the very serious effects of drug abuse,” Bullock wrote in the press release.
Niaz, who owns and worked out of the Tri-State Health pain management clinic on South College Avenue in Newark declined to comment.
According to the public order presented by the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline, Niaz was originally sentenced to two years of license probation, but Bullock determined the violations were to such a degree that a more stern consequence was needed.
“[These offenses] constitute such egregious deviation from the standard of care that this level of unprofessional conduct must be met with the appropriate discipline,” Bullock said in the Department of State decision document.
This suspension is not the first time Niaz has run afoul of Delaware’s prescription regulations. This decision is the result of an original complaint filed in December of 2011, which resulted in an emergency suspension for Niaz and an advance practice nurse under his employ, Jean Binkley, whose case has not concluded. According to Christopher Portante, the chief of community relations for the Delaware Department of State, these suspensions were rescinded in February 2012 when inaccuracies were found within the filed complaints.
However, now the charges have officially gone through, Portante said he agreed with the steps taken.
“Doctors have a code of conduct and professional rules that they need to follow, and when a physician does not follow those rules or regulations, we need to insure that we are protecting the public,” Portante said. “The effects from improper prescribing and disregard for the established laws regarding prescription drugs can not only affect the individual, but also the community.”
Despite the action taken by Delaware’s Department of State and the allegations levied against him, Niaz still practices at the Tri-State Health clinic in Elkton, Md., seven miles away from his Newark location. The Maryland Board of Physicians declined to comment on the investigation.
Thomas Powers, a philosophy professor who studies biomedical ethics, said, on a nationwide scale, prescription pain medications are so addictive that even short term, justly prescribed use can lead to dangerous consequences. The Food and Drug Administration is now labeling prescription opioid addiction as an “epidemic” on its website.
People are often prescribed to pain medications for legitimate reasons, Powers said, but it is easy for them to become addicted. The doctors need to recognize problems early and cut patients off to avoid complications.
Powers also said the societal tendency to “over-medicate” and “over-prescribe” patients in the United States increases prescription drug abuse. However, he said the burden of responsibility remains with the doctors who prescribe the medications.
“Obviously, if you’re getting your patients addicted to pain medications, that is not a good thing for them,” Powers said. “The bottom line is the doctor has to pay attention to what is making the patient better, and what is making the patient worse.”
According to the official complaint, Niaz failed to do this. Included in the complaint are points specifically stating that Niaz neglected to discuss the risks and benefits of using a controlled substance with patients prescribed medications without proper medical examinations, failed to keep complete medical records and failed to properly train his staff to administer controlled substances.