Disciplinary Actions against
Charles E. Law, Jr., M.D.

Stephen Barrett, M.D.


Charles E. Law, Jr., M.D., who for many years operated the Studio City Wellness Center in Los Angeles, has been disciplined twice by the Medical Board of California:


BEFORE THE
DIVISION OF MEDICAL QUALITY
MEDICAL BOARD OF CALIFORNIA
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS
STATE OF CALIFORNIA

n the Matter of the Accusation Against:

CHARLES E. LAW, JR., M.D.
3400 Ben Lomond Place, #304
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Physician and Surgeon's Certificate No. G 20667

Respondent.


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Case No.: 17-2005-168509


ACCUSATION

 

FILED: June 18, 2008

Complainant alleges:

PARTIES

1. Barbara Johnston (Complainant) brings this Accusation solely in her official capacity as the Executive Director of the Medical Board of California, Department of Consumer Affairs.

2. On July 1, 1971, the Medical Board of California issued Physician and Surgeon's Certificate Number G 20667 to Charles E. Law, Jr., M.D. (Respondent). The Physician and Surgeon's Certificate was in full force and effect at all times relevant to the charges brought herein and will expire on June 30, 2009, unless renewed.

JURISDICTION

3. This Accusation is brought before the. Medical Board of California (Board), Department of Consumer Affairs, under the authority of the following laws. All section references are to the Business and Professions Code unless otherwise indicated.

4. Section 2227 of the Code provides that a licensee who is found guilty under the Medical Practice Act may have his or her license revoked, suspended for a period not to exceed one year, placed on probation and required to pay the costs of probation monitoring, or such other action taken in relation to discipline as the Board deems proper.

5. Section 2234 of the Code states:

The Division of Medical Quality1 shall take action against any licensee who is charged with unprofessional conduct. In' addition to other provisions of this article, unprofessional conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following: (a) Violating or attempting to violate, directly or indirectly, assisting in or abetting the violation of, or conspiring to violate any provision of this chapter [Chapter 5, the Medical Practice Act].

1California Business and Professions Code section 2002, as amended and effective January 1, 2008, provides that, unless otherwise expressly provided, the term "board" as used in the State Medical Practice Act (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code, §§ 2000, et seq.) means the "Medical Board of California," and references to the "Division of Medical Quality" and "Division of Licensing" in the Act or any other provision of law shall be deemed to refer to the Board.

(b) Gross negligence.

(c) Repeated negligent acts. To be repeated, there must be two or more negligent acts or omissions. An initial negligent act or omission followed by a separate and distinct departure from the applicable standard of care shall constitute repeated negligent acts.

(1) An initial negligent diagnosis followed by an act or omission medically appropriate for that negligent diagnosis of the patient shall constitute a single negligent act.

(2) When the standard of care requires a change in the diagnosis, act, or omission that constitutes the negligent act described in paragraph (1), including, but not limited to, a reevaluation of the diagnosis or a change in treatment, and the licensee's conduct departs from the applicable standard of care, each departure constitutes a separate and distinct breach of the standard of care. (d) Incompetence.

(e) The commission of any act involving dishonesty or corruption which is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a physician and surgeon.

(f) Any action or conduct which would have warranted the denial of a certificate.

6. Section 2266 of the Code states: "The failure of a physician and surgeon to maintain adequate and accurate records relating to the provision of services to their patients constitutes unprofessional conduct."

FIRST CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE

(Repeated Negligent Acts)

7. Respondent is subject to disciplinary action under section 2234, subdivision (c) of the Code in that respondent engaged in repeated negligent acts in the care and treatment of patients. The circumstances are as follows:

Patient C.M.2

2Patient names are abbreviated to protect privacy.

8. On or about February 6, 1991, C.M. presented to Feline Butcher, a "nutritional counselor" who shared office space and charts with respondent. C.M.'s complaints included dizziness, fatigue, panic attacks, neck and low back pain, depression, and intestinal gas. He was seen once more by Butcher in 1991. Nothing in the medical record demonstrated that C.M. presented to respondent in 1991.

9. On February 7, 1991, blood was drawn and tests were performed on order of respondent. The laboratory test result was not signed or initialed by respondent, and no comment was made in the chart.

10. From about August 21, 1997, through December 29,1998, C.M. presented to Butcher on approximately ten occasions Noted complaints included lack of coordination and dizziness. There was no record of treatment with respondent during this period of time.

11. On or about March 14, 2003, respondent issued a telephone order for Z Pack3 with no noted reason for the prescription nor any indication that C.M. was examined by respondent.

3Z Pack (Zithromax@ or azithromycin) is an antibiotic.

12. On or about April 2, 2003, C.M. presented to respondent with a sore throat. The chart note demonstrated laboratory tests were ordered, but there was no indication that the laboratory tests were performed.

13. On or about August 16, 2004, after evaluation at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, C.M. was diagnosed with metastatic renal cell carcinoma.

14. On or about September 11, 2004, C.M. presented to respondent. The chart note, which was dated September 11, 2005, indicated that C.M. had been diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma, metastatic to the brain. Respondent noted his position that he could provide nutritional support and counseling, but he advised C.M. to discuss medical and surgical options and prognosis with his oncologist.

15. Respondent maintained a protocol for Intravenous ("IV") Vitamin C therapy, whereby established patients could obtain IV Vitamin C therapy. The protocol was nonspecific and provided that one to two infusions for colds and flu could be obtained on consecutive days, and up to 12 infusions could be obtained for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Epstein-Barr Virus ("EBV"). Patients were required to see a doctor if the pulse was above 120, systolic blood pressure below 90, diastolic blood pressure below 60, respiratory rate at 24 or above, or temperature greater than 104 degrees.

16. According to an IV Solution Log, C.M. received approximately 39 IV Vitamin C infusions between April 9, 2002, and February 19, 2005, with no corresponding chart notes. The infusions noted in the IV Solution Log were signed by respondent. However, no symptoms relating to the giving of the infusions were noted, no vital signs were recorded, and no patient consent was obtained and/or documented. There was no indication that blood tests had been performed in the year 2002, when the IV Vitamin C infusion therapy began, through the June 30, 2004, infusion. The solution log indicated that on January 14, 2005, C.M. was "at hospital having a 'pic"4 line put in.

4Peripherally inserted central catheter.

17. On or about February 28, 2005, C.M. was admitted to Cedars Sinai Medical Center where he was diagnosed with staphylococcus aureus bacteremia. The site of entry appeared to be the pic line.

18. C.M. expired on or about March 25, 2005, from metastatic kidney cancer.

19. Respondent engaged in the following repeated negligent acts in the care and treatment of patient C.M.:

a. Respondent was negligent in failing to conduct a thorough neurological examination of C.M., although the chart references neurological complaints, including dizziness and lack of coordination as early as 1991.

b. Respondent was negligent in prescribing Z Pack without interviewing and examining C.M. and/or without documenting the interview and examination.

c. Respondent was negligent in providing a non-specific protocol for C.M.'s IV infusions, which did not specify diluents, ingredients, and volumes, did not contain any exclusions, and did not specify the time frame in which the patient should be seen by a physician.

d. Respondent was negligent in failing to examine and/or "document examination of C.M. before providing IV infusions.

e. Respondent was negligent in failing to obtain basic laboratory tests before C.M. received IV infusions in 2002 and in June 2004.

f. Respondent was negligent in that C.M. 's vital signs were not obtained and/or recorded before the giving of IV infusions.

g. Respondent was negligent in failing to obtain and document informed consent for the IV infusions.

h. Respondent was negligent in maintaining an incorrectly dated and sequentially out-of-place progress note, dated September 1, 2005, a date occurring after C.M.'s death.

Patient J.L.

20. Patient J.L. first presented to Feline Butcher in 1987 with complaints which included fatigue, back pain, depression insomnia, and bleeding gums: A blood test arid urinalysis were performed, with respondent documented as the ordering physician. There were no chart notes from respondent relating to the tests.

21. In 1988, additional blood tests were ordered, with respondent documented as the ordering physician. J.L. received a total of seven IV Vitamin C infusions from May 20, 1988, through June 14, 1988. Respondent's notes accompanying the infusions list EBV as the "problem." Yet, there was no record of an examination.

22. J.L. was examined by respondent on May 30, 2001 and presented with complaints which included abdominal pain, fatigue, swollen glands. Respondent ordered blood tests, urinalysis, and a stool test.

23. On or about November 18, 2002, respondent issued a telephone order for Tinidazole, an antiparasitic medication, with no noted reason for the prescription nor indication that J.L. was examined by respondent.

24. EBV serology panels were ordered, with respondent documented as the ordering physician, on or about the following dates: August 7, 2001; March 28, 2002; August 19, 2003; October 14, 2003; and December 6, 2003. The record contains no comments by respondent relating to the tests, and only the March 28, 2002, and August 19, 2003, tests were signed or initialed by respondent.

25. On or about August 19, 2003, a genetic test, the "Detoxigenomic Profile," was ordered, with respondent documented as the ordering physician. Respondent did not initial or sign the laboratory report, and there was no chart note relating to the results of the test.

26. On or about December 16, 2003, an "Elemental Analysis" test was ordered, with respondent documented as the ordering physician, There was no chart note relating to the results of the test.

27. Respondent maintained a protocol for IV Vitamin C therapy, whereby established patients could obtain IV Vitamin C therapy. The protocol was non-specific and provided that one to two infusions for colds and flu could be obtained on consecutive days, and up to 12 infusions could be obtained for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or EBV. Patients were required to see a doctor if the pulse was above 120, systolic blood pressure below 90, diastolic blood pressure below 60, respiratory rate at 24 or above, or temperature greater than 104 degrees.

28. According to an IV Solution Log, J.L. received IV Vitamin C infusions on April 23, 2002, September 19, 2002, September 21, 2002, and September 28, 2002, with no corresponding chart notes. The infusions noted in the IV Solution Log were signed by respondent. No symptoms relating to the giving of the infusions were recorded, vital signs were not documented prior to the infusions, and patient consent was not obtained and/or documented.

29. According to the IV Solution Log, in 2003, 2004, and 2005, J.L. received IV Vitamin C infusions on approximately 65 occasions, with three separate infusions occurring on some occasions. The infusions noted in the IV Solution Log were signed by respondent. However, there were no chart notes corresponding with these infusions, no vital signs were recorded, and no patient consent was obtained and/or documented.

30. On May 3, 2006, J.L. reported to Butcher that he was suffering from "flu-like" symptoms.

31. J.L. received IV Vitamin C infusions on May 3, 2006, May 4, 2006, April 8, 2006,4 and on two occasions on May 5, 2006. The infusions noted in the IV Solution Log were signed by respondent. However, there were no chart notes corresponding with these infusions, no vital signs were recorded, and no patient consent was obtained and/or documented.

5This date is out of chronological order in the solution log.

32. On May 8, 2006, J.L. presented to respondent, complaining of malaise, dark urine, yellow skin, and right upper quadrant abdominal pain. Examination revealed jaundice and right upper quadrant abdominal tenderness. No vital signs were reported. The assessment was hepatitis. The plan was to obtain laboratory tests and add selenium to IV Vitamin C drips. J.L. was told to return the following day to have his blood drawn. J.L. received an IV infusion, although there is no indication selenium was added to the solution.

33. On May 9, 2006, J.L. received an IV Vitamin C infusion, which also contained selenium. His blood was drawn. No vital signs were recorded.

34. J.L. expired on May 10, 2006. A coroner's autopsy listed the cause of death as "undetermined."

35. Respondent engaged in the following repeated negligent acts in the care and treatment of patient J.L.

a. Respondent was negligent in prescribing Tinidazole without interviewing and examining J.L and/or without documenting the interview and examination.

b. Respondent was negligent in providing a non-specific protocol for J.L.'s IV Vitamin C infusions, which did not specify diluents, ingredients, and volumes, did not contain any exclusions, and did not specify the time frame in which the patient should be seen by a physician.

c. Respondent was negligent in failing to obtain and document informed consent for the IV infusions.

d. Respondent was negligent in failing to obtain and/or record J.L.’s vital signs before J.L. received IV infusions.

e. Respondent was negligent in failing to obtain and document a recent patient history and conduct and document an examination of J.L, before providing IV infusions.

f. Respondent was negligent in failing to obtain a basic blood laboratory test during the period of September 30, 2003 through May 9, 2006, during which J.L. received IV infusions.

g. Respondent was negligent in providing five IV Vitamin C infusions tor cold and flu in April and May 2006 in contradiction of his protocol.

h. Respondent was negligent in failing to obtain and/or record vital signs on May 8, 2006 when he examined J.L.

i. Respondent was negligent in failing to sign or initial lab test results.

j. Respondent was negligent in repeatedly failing to analyze laboratory results, make medical diagnoses, and chart notations relating to laboratory tests,

Patient W.B.

36. W.BB. presented to respondent on or about September 17, 1998 and August 3, 1999. On July 6, 2001, respondent conducted a telephone consult with W.B. and prescribed Bactrim DS®, an antibiotic.

37. The chart includes a note by Feline Butcher,' dated October 18, 2001,  indicating the following: "Sneezing . . . head off, slightly green phlegm. Sore throat . . . congested head."

38. The chart includes an unsigned note, dated December 29, 2001, documenting a telephone order by respondent for Z Pack with no noted reason for the prescription nor indication that W.B. was examined by respondent.

39. On or about December 29, 2001, respondent was negligent in prescribing Z Pack without noting the reasons for Z Pack and without interviewing and examining W.B and/or without documenting the interview and examination.

SECOND CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE

(Gross Negligence)

40. Respondent is subject to disciplinary action under section 2234, subdivision (b), in that he was grossly negligent in his care and treatment of patients. The circumstances are as follows:

Patient C.M.

41. The facts and allegations set forth in paragraphs 8 through 18 are incorporated herein.

42. Respondent was grossly negligent in failing to obtain C.M.’s vital signs were not obtained and/or recorded before the giving of IV Vitamin C infusions.

Patient J.L.

43. The facts and allegations set forth in paragraphs 20 through 34 are incorporated herein.

44. Respondent was grossly negligent in the care and treatment of J.L. as follows:

a. Respondent was grossly negligent in failing to obtain vital signs during the May 8, 2006 examination of J.L. when J.L. was severely ill.

b. Respondent was grossly negligent in failing to obtain vital signs before the giving of IV Vitamin C infusions in May 2006.

c. Respondent was grossly negligent in providing IV Vitamin C infusions on May 8 and May 9, 2006, without having performed recent appropriate blood tests.

THIRD CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE

(Failure to Maintain Adequate and Accurate Medical Records)

45. Respondent is subject to disciplinary action under section2266 of the Code in that he failed to maintain adequate and accurate records relating to the provision of services to his patients. The circumstances are as follows:

Patient C.M.

46. The facts and allegations in paragraphs 8 through 16 and 19, subparagraphs b, d, f, g, and h, are incorporated herein.

Patient J.L.

47. The facts and allegations in paragraphs 20, 21, 23 through 33, and 35, subdivisions a, c, d, e, h, i, and j, are incorporated herein.

Patient W.B.

48. The facts and allegations in paragraphs 36 through 39 are incorporated herein .

DISCIPLINE CONSIDERATIONS

49. To determine the degree of discipline, if any, to be imposed on respondent, Complainant alleges that on or about July 8, 1995, in a prior disciplinary action entitled In the Matter of the Accusation Against Charles E. Law, Jr., M.D. before the Medical Board of California, in Case Number D-4782, respondent's license was revoked as a result of unprofessional conduct relating to failure to maintain proper patient records. Revocation was stayed; and respondent was placed on probation for a period of five-years. After a petition for early termination of probation was granted, probation was completed on November 4, 1998. The decisions are now final and is incorporated by reference as if fully set forth.

PRAYER

WHEREFORE, Complainant requests that a hearing be held on the matters herein alleged, and that following the hearing, the Medical Board of California issue a decision:

  1. Revoking or suspending Physician and Surgeon's Certificate Number G 120667, issued to Charles E. Law, Jr., M.D.

  2. Revoking, suspending, or denying approval of Charles E. Law, Jr., M.D.'s authority to supervise physician's assistants, pursuant to section 3527 of the Code;

  3. Ordering Charles E. Law, Jr., M.D., if placed on probation, to pay the costs of probation monitoring;

  4. Taking such other and further action as deemed necessary and proper:

DATED: June 18, 2008

___________________________
BARBARA JOHNSTON
Executive Director
Medical Board of California
Department of Consumer Affairs
State of California
Complainant

This page was posted on August 30, 2011.

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