Pubdate: Fri, 11 Mar 2016
Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2016 Star Advertiser
Author: Rob Perez


Nearly 2-1/2 years after California revoked a physician's medical 
license for misconduct, local regulators decided Thursday to revoke 
his Hawaii credentials.

But the chairman of the Hawaii Medical Board, which voted to yank the 
license of Dr. Daniel Susott, said he's hoping future cases involving 
Hawaii-licensed physicians disciplined in other states take less time 
to resolve.

"We should not see cases like this anymore," Dr. Niraj Desai, who 
heads the panel that makes final disciplinary decisions involving 
doctors, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser after Thursday's board meeting.

The slow pace Hawaii's regulatory system takes to decide cases 
involving physicians sanctioned in other states was the focus of a 
recent Star-Advertiser series. The newspaper found cases that took 
years to resolve, even after a physician lost a license in another 
state but was continuing to practice here.

The delays mostly stemmed from the time it took staff at the 
Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to investigate and make 
recommendations to the board.

The series triggered the introduction of bills - still advancing at 
the Legislature - that are intended to quicken the 
reciprocal-discipline process, which advocates say would enhance 
consumer protections.

The case involving Susott illustrated the shortcomings of the Hawaii system.

California's medical board in October 2013 revoked his license for 
gross incompetence, unprofessional conduct and dishonesty after 
investigators discovered he was recommending medical marijuana 
without adequately examining patients or taking medical histories, 
according to regulatory documents from that state.

Sometimes, Susott made the recommendations from Hawaii, even though 
the patients were in California, the records show.

Despite the revocation - the most serious sanction against a doctor's 
license - Susott was able to continue practicing in Hawaii and was 
still treating local patients as recently as last year, according to 
Hawaii court documents. Susott, who did not attend Thursday's board 
meeting, could not be reached for comment.

The newspaper found that reciprocal-discipline cases in Hawaii 
typically take longer than in other states partly because regulators 
basically were re-investigating the mainland actions to determine 
whether such actions constituted violations of local licensing regulations.

In other states where such cases are handled more quickly, medical 
boards are able to use the discipline orders from elsewhere as the 
basis for imposing sanctions, negating the need to re-investigate cases.

Two of the bills advancing at the Legislature, Senate Bill 2864 and 
House Bill 2335, basically would permit the Hawaii board to do the 
same thing. It also would allow the state to prohibit a physician who 
has lost the ability to practice elsewhere from practicing in Hawaii 
until a resolution on the reciprocal-discipline case is reached by the board.

HB 2335 goes a step further, authorizing the board to summarily 
suspend a license within 48 hours of receipt of evidence that the 
person's license has been suspended, revoked or sanctioned elsewhere.

But board members said a two-day turnaround was not possible given 
the panel's once-a-month meeting schedule.

If the 48-hour provision eventually is adopted, the state would have 
to come up with a new process that would allow such quick action, they said.

Ahlani Quiogue, executive officer of the board, said DCCA typically 
is notified by the Federation of State Medical Boards that a 
Hawaii-licensed physician has been sanctioned in another state within 
24 to 36 hours of the other state alerting the federation.

Given the logistics involved, the fastest the state could summarily 
suspend a license after such notification is about a month, board members said.

"Thirty days is much too long," said Dr. Peter Halford, one of the members.

Since the newspaper series was published in November, the board has 
been able to decide more reciprocal-discipline cases because staff is 
getting recommendations to the panel more expeditiously, according to 
Desai, the medical board chairman.

"That has been a very welcomed change," he said.

In voting to revoke Susott's license, Desai and his fellow board 
members accepted the recommendation of a hearings officer that also 
called for a fine of $1,000.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom