Suspended doctor has troubled history

 

DOVER — A doctor who recently had his license suspended had been put on probation 10 months before and was previously investigated for allegedly exposing patients to unnecessary dangers.

Dermatologist Lindsay Brathwaite allegedly put patients at risk for contracting deadly diseases because of seriously lacking sterilization practices and allegedly had ordered many unnecessary biopsies to increase his earnings, according to state records.

The Center for Dermatology in Dover appeared closed on Wednesday afternoon, but no sign was on the door. (Delaware State News/Matt Bittle)

The Center for Dermatology in Dover appeared closed on Wednesday afternoon, but no sign was on the door. (Delaware State News/Matt Bittle)

The Department of State announced on Aug. 20 Dr. Brathwaite’s license had been suspended as a result of an investigation into alleged unsafe medical procedures and inappropriate prescriptions.

Dr. Brathwaite, who operated the Center for Dermatology in Dover, had been placed on probation in October for conducting “hundreds of biopsies and surgical procedures without any legitimate medical need” and without proper sterilization, according to a news release from the department.

Under the terms of the probation, he was forbidden from performing surgeries or biopsies for five years. However, the department alleged, he violated those terms by frequently conducting surgical procedures despite the sanctions.

His license was yanked on Aug. 19 after the attorney general’s office filed a motion for a temporary suspension and Dr. Brathwaite did not respond to a written notification.

He had previously been investigated by both state and federal officials, and the Division of Public Health ordered him to close both his Dover and Ocean View offices in June 2011 after an investigation. DPH had been contacted by the Division of Professional Regulation, which had received several complaints.

Dr. Brathwaite was allowed to re-open his offices a month later after filing a correction plan with DPH, although investigations and hearings continued.

“Dr. Brathwaite knowingly and with willful and wanton negligence, without regard for the safety of his patients, allowed cross-contamination of blood products, exposing patients to possibly contracting hepatitis, AIDS and other blood-borne pathogens by deliberately avoiding sterilization techniques,” reads the 2014 report ordering the probation.

Eight hearings were held before a panel of the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline between October 2011 and April 2013, with medical records, photographs and expert witnesses as evidence.

The panel found Dr. Brathwaite relied on biopsies as opposed to examination problem areas and medical records.

According to its report, Dr. Brathwaite “engaged in dishonorable and unethical conduct likely to harm the public and his patients,” doing so partly because it brought in greater profits.

The board’s panel recommended he inform his patients of the potential risks as a result of his alleged improper sterilization techniques. However, the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline rejected its suggestions and chose to place him on probation. He was also ordered to undergo training and pay a fine.

Dr. Brathwaite paid the $10,000 fine two weeks after the judgment but continued performing surgeries and biopsies, according to authorities.

The Division of Professional Regulation received several recent complaints, leading it to conduct another investigation.

As a result, his license was suspended because there was reason to believe his “continued practice presents a clear and immediate danger to the public health,” according to the order.

Dr. Brathwaite could not be reached for comment. Calls to his office went straight to voicemail, and the practice appeared to be closed.

Several people commenting on the Delaware State News’ Facebook page on a story about the suspension posted last week complained about the service. One man, who requested his name not be used, said a cancerous lesion was misdiagnosed and he thought about taking legal action.

According to the attorney general’s office, no charges are forthcoming.

Division of Professional Regulation Director David Mangler said he does not know if Dr. Brathwaite had been performing the illicit surgeries the entire time he was on probation or if he halted the operations for a time, although a State Department news release said he “continued performing biopsies on a daily basis and surgical procedures on a weekly basis.”

Mr. Mangler also was unsure of how many surgeries the doctor allegedly performed after he had been ordered not to.

A hearing to determine further action must be held before a panel or individual division officer within 60 days of the suspension. Recommendations will then be provided to the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline. The doctors and civilians on the board will determine Dr. Brathwaite’s fate. His license could be permanently revoked.

Exactly what happens is up to the board.

Citizens who have concerns about an individual or a business in certain fields, such as medicine, architecture or boxing, can file a complaint online with the Division of Professional Regulation. They can also check the status or a person or company to determine if they have been disciplined.

The Division of Professional Regulation provides support and oversight to the various boards that certify many professionals, but the boards themselves have the ability to punish individuals who act in an improper way in the course of business.

According to the division, there were an average of 198 complaints per year from 2012 to 2014. There were less than 35 punishments, ranging from license revocations to fines, per year, although that does not necessarily mean most of the complaints were found to be baseless. Due to the process, which requires investigations and hearings, a complaint filed one year may not be fully resolved until the next year.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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