Superior Court upholds disciplinary action against doctor

 

WILMINGTON — Sanctions against a doctor accused of faulty record keeping and a pattern of negligence were upheld in Superior Court on Monday, according to a 15-page order.

Dr. Nathan L. Centers was placed on probation for six months by the Delaware Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline for his actions as medical director at Kent Sussex Community Services, a judge’s ruling indicated.

Records within the outpatient addiction, mental health and/or HIV/AIDS treatment nonprofit were scrutinized after a registered nurse – identified in papers only as M.S. for privacy reasons – came under investigation for possible prescription fraud at an unspecified date, Judge W. Ferris Wharton Jr. noted in his decision.

Kent Sussex Community Services has offices in Dover, Laurel and Georgetown.

The Delaware Division of Professional Regulation subpoenaed Dr. Centers for records of M.S. – who he had prescribed Adderall – on July 16, 2015, according to the order.

The doctor sent six pages of records to the DPR, documents said, including a list of prescription dates and evaluations regarding the Adderall.

The DPR then contacted the Delaware Department Justice regarding investigation off Dr. Centers.

A DPR hearing was held on April 4, 2016, papers said, and Dr. Centers provided the lone testimony. A finding of inadequate records resulted on May 6, 2016.

Although Dr. Centers “testified that patient records were for his own keeping, the Hearing Officer noted (his) failure to recall certain details regarding his treatment of M.S. at the hearing demonstrated that his records did not adequately inform himself, let alone any other medical providers,” according to records.

The records indicated Dr. Centers’ “inattentiveness to properly document patient records over an extended period of time,” the order cited.

The Board affirmed the recommendations on violations on July 20, 2016 and supported discipline “in order to properly protect the public.”

In addition to the half-year suspension, the Board required Dr. Centers not practice medicine independently during that time, pay for an independent audit at his expense, and participate in three hours training each for ethics and safe prescribing of controlled substances, according to documents.

Dr. Centers appealed on Aug. 19, 2016, claiming the findings were not supported by any recorded evidence. Among other contentions, the doctor argued that an audit was impossible since he was a full-time State of Delaware employee and “the records on the patients that he sees are not in (his) dominion, custody, or control.”

Also, according to documents, the doctor claimed “his testimony reveals he met, and even exceeded, the standard of care with respect to his record-keeping practices.

“(He) argues that no evidence was offered to rebut his testimony. Without such evidence, the conclusion that his record-keeping practices did not meet the standard of care cannot withstand scrutiny on appeal.”

Judge Wharton found “substantial evidence” supported the Board’s decision and claims of proper records were “simply untrue.

“(Dr. Centers’) own testimony, upon which the Board relied, reveals that his records of M.S. were replete with errors and deficiencies.”

Also, Judge Wharton believed, “the Hearing Officer articulated factual findings proving that (Dr. Centers) was careless in documenting records over the court of writing approximately 24 prescriptions of Adderall for M.S.”

Attorney Daniel A. Griffith represented Dr. Centers in the matter, while DOJ attorney Stacey X. Stewart spoke for the Delaware Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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