California Medical Board Reprimands
James R. Privitera, M.D.

Stephen Barrett, M.D.


In 2004, the Medical Board of California publicly reprimanded James R. Privitera, Jr., M.D., for "failing to perform an adequate history and physical of a patient before commencing treatment, and for failing to maintain adequate and accurate records of the care and treatment provided to that patient." The patient was a 71-year-old woman who in 1999 had complained of a headache while in Privitera's waiting room. According to the complaint, Privitera (a) prescribed 20,000 units of heparin (an anticoagulant) to be placed under the woman's tongue, (b) examined a blood sample with a dark-field microscope, (c) concluded that the blood specimen showed too much tendency to clot, and (d) prescribed another 20,000 units of heparin to be given under the patient's skin. Soon afterward, the patient became lightheaded, vomited, and passed out. She was rushed to a hospital. where it was noted that she was comatose and bleeding from several places. She died a few hours later, apparently as a result of a massive hemorrhage inside her head. Privitera's management of this patient was highly improper because:

In 2003, The Medical Board charged that Privitera had (a) failed to properly evaluate the woman's headache, (b) had no documented rationale for administering heparin, and (c) had administered an overdose. The case was settled with a stipulation and order (shown below) under which Privitera agreed to be reprimanded, pay $5,000 in costs, and take courses in prescribing and medical recordkeeping.

This is not the first time Privitera has gotten into trouble. In 1975, he was convicted of conspiring to prescribe and distribute laetrile and was sentenced to six months in prison. (Laetrile is a quack cancer remedy.) In 1980, after the appeals process ended, he served 55 days in jail but was released after being pardoned by California Governor Jerry Brown. Shortly afterward, because Privitera had been prescribing unapproved substances for the treatment of cancer, the California Board of Medical Quality Assurance suspended his medical license for four months and placed him on ten years' probation under board supervision. During the probationary period, Privitera was "prohibited from making any representation that he is able to cure cancer through nutrition." During the probationary period, he began marketing equipment that offbeat practitioners use for recommending dietary supplements. Privitera improperly claims that live cell analysis can be used to diagnose "clot malfunction," which he claims is an underlying cause of many diseases. Quackwatch has addiional information about his activities.


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


In the Matter of the Accusation Against:

JAMES R. PRIVITERA, Jr., M.D.
256 West San Bernardino Road
Covina, California 91723
Physician's and Surgeon's Cert. No. C 30445,

Respondent.



Case No. 11-2001-119360

STIPULATED SETTLEMENT AND
DISCIPLINARY ORDER

In the interest of a prompt and speedy settlement of this matter, consistent with the public interest and the responsibility of the Medical Board of California ("Board"), the parties hereby agree to the following Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order that will be submitted to the Division for approval and adoption as the final disposition of the pending Accusation.

PARTIES

1. Ron Joseph ("Complainant") was the Executive Director of the Medical Board of California who brought this action solely in his official capacity. The Complainant is represented in this matter by Attorney General Bill Lockyer, by Robert McKim Bell, Supervising Deputy Attorney General.

2. Respondent James R. Privitera, M.D. ("Respondent") is represented in this proceeding by [his attorney].

3. On August 22, 1968, the Board issued Physician's and Surgeon's Certificate No. C~30445 to Dr. Privitera.

JURISDICTION

4. Accusation No. 11-2001-119360 was filed before the Board's Division of Medical Quality ("Division") and is currently pending against Respondent. The Accusation and all other statutorily required documents were properly served on Respondent. Respondent timely filed his Notice of Defense contesting the Accusation. A copy of Accusation No. 11-2001-119360 is attached as Appendix 1 and is incorporated herein by reference.

ADVISEMENT AND WAIVERS

5. Respondent has carefully read, fully discussed with counsel, and understands the charges and allegations in Accusation No. 11.2001-119360. Respondent has also carefully read, fully discussed with counsel, and understands the effects of this Stipulated Settlement for Public Reprimand.

6. Respondent is fully aware of his legal rights in this matter, including his right to a hearing on the charges in the Accusation; his right to be represented by counsel at his own expense; his right to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him; his right to present evidence and to testify on his own behalf; his right to the issuance of subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents; his right to reconsideration and court review of an adverse decision; and all other rights accorded by the California Administrative Procedure Act and other applicable laws.

7. Respondent voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waives and gives up each and every right set forth above.

CULPABILITY

8. Respondent admits that he is subject to disciplinary action under sections 2234 and 2266 of the Business and Professions Code for failing to perform an adequate history and physical of a patient before commencing treatment and for failing to maintain adequate and accurate records of the care and treatment provided to a patient in the manner set forth in the Accusation.

9. Respondent agrees that his Physician's and Surgeon's Certificate is subject to discipline and he agrees to be bound by the Division's imposition of discipline as set forth in the Disciplinary Order below.

CONTINGENCY

10. This stipulation shall be subject to approval by the Division of Medical Quality. Respondent understands and agrees that counsel for Complainant and the staff of the Medical Board of California may communicate directly with the Division regarding this stipulation and settlement, without notice to or participation by Respondent or his counsel. By signing the stipulation, Respondent understands and agrees that he may not withdraw his agreement or seek to rescind the stipulation prior to the time the Division considers and acts upon it If the Division fails to adopt this stipulation as its Decision and Order, the Stipulated Settlement for Public Reprimand shall be of no force or effect, except for this paragraph, it shall be inadmissible in any legal action between the parties, and the Division shall not be disqualified from further action by having considered this matter.

11. The parties understand and agree that facsimile copies of this Stipulated Settlement for Public Reprimand, including facsimile signatures thereto, shall have the same force and effect as the originals.

12. In consideration of the foregoing admissions and stipulations, the parties agree that the Division may, without further notice or formal proceeding, issue and enter the following Disciplinary Order:

DISCIPLINARY ORDER

1. PRESCRIBING PRACTICES COURSE

Within 60 calendar days of the effective date of the Decision and Order, respondent shall enroll in the Physician Prescribing Course given by the University of California at San Diego P.A.C.E. Program (hereinafter, "P.A.C.E."), approved in advance by the Division or its designee. He shall successfully complete the course, at his own expense, within six months of the effective date of the Decision and Order.

A prescribing practices course taken after the acts that gave rise to the charges in the Accusation, but prior to the effective date of the Decision and Order may, in the sole discretion of the Division or its designee, be accepted towards the fulfillment of this condition if the course would have been approved by the Division or its designee had the course been taken after the effective date of this Decision.

Respondent shall submit a certification of successful completion to the Division or its designee not later than 15 calendar days after successfully completing the course, or not later than 15 calendar days after the effective date of the Decision and Order, whichever is later.

2. MEDICAL RECORD KEEPING COURSE Within 60 calendar days of the effective date of the Decision and Order, respondent shall enroll in the P.A.C.E. Medical Record Keeping Course, approved in advance by the Division or its designee. He shall successfully complete the course, at his own expense, within six months of the effective date of the Decision and Order.

A medical record keeping course taken after the acts that gave rise to the charges in the Accusation, but prior to the effective date of the Decision and Order may, in the sole discretion of the Division or its designee, be accepted towards the fulfillment of this condition if the course would have been approved by the Division or its designee had the course been taken after the effective date of the Decision and Order.

Respondent shall submit a certification of successful completion to the Division or its designee not later than 15 calendar days after successfully completing the course, or not later than 15 calendar days after the effective date of the Decision and Order, whichever is later.

3. COST RECOVERY Within 90 calendar days from the effective date of the Decision and Order, or other period agreed to by the Division or its designee, respondent shall reimburse the Division the amount of $5,000 for its costs of investigation and prosecution of the matter. The filing of bankruptcy or period of non-practice by respondent shall not relieve the respondent of his obligation to reimburse the Division for its costs.

4. If Respondent timely and successfully completes each term and condition set forth in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 above, then a public reprimand pursuant to Business and Processions Code sections 2234 and 2227 shall be issued to him for failing to perform an adequate history and physical of a patient before commencing treatment and for failing to maintain adequate and accurate records of the care and treatment provided to a patient under section 2266 of the Code.

ACCEPTANCE

I have carefully read the above Stipulated Settlement for Public Reprimand and have fully discussed it with my attorney. . . . I understand the stipulation and the effect it will have on my Physician's and Surgeon's Certificate. I enter into this Stipulated Settlement for Public Reprimand voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently, and agree to be bound by the Order of the Division of Medical Quality, Medical Board of California.

DATED: 5-10-04

_________________________
JAMES R. PRIVITERA, M.D.
Respondent

I have read and fully discussed with Respondent James R. Privitera, M.D. the terms and conditions and other matters contained in the above Stipulated Settlement for Public Reprimand. I approve its form and content.

DATED: 5-7-04

_________________________
Attorney for Respondent

ENDORSEMENT

The foregoing Stipulated Settlement for Public Reprimand is hereby respectfully submitted for consideration by the Division of Medical Quality, Medical Board of California of the Department of Consumer Affairs.

DATED: May 7, 2004.

BILL LOCKYER, Attorney General
of the State of California

________________________
Robert McKim Bell
Supervising Deputy Attorney General
Attorneys for Complainant

This page was posted on February 21, 2005

Links to Recommended Companies