Disciplinary Actions against
James W. Forsythe, M.D.
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
In January 2009, the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners charged Dr. James Forsythe with diagnosing a patient with prostate cancer and administering chemotherapy without verifying the diagnosis with a biopsy. The complaint (shown below) stated that when the patient developed urinary retention (presumably a side effect of the chemotherapy drug), a follow-up needle biopsy of his prostate found no evidence of cancer. The complaint was dismissed in November 2009.
In 1995, Forsythe and the Board entered into a stipulation to settle charges that he had violated the standards of practice, and made unreasonable additional charges for tests performed outside of his office. The settlement called for payment of a $1,000 fine plus disgorgement of $44,000 to be used by the Board for future public protection and awareness.
Forsythe maintains the Century Wellness Clinic in Reno, Nevada, where, according to his Web site, "Cancer patients who do integrative therapies have a greater likelihood of surviving with less toxic outcomes than those who choose to integrate alternative, complementary, and conventional treatments." The site also states that Forsythe's wife, as chairman of Nevada's Republican Party, "was able to convince former Governor Kenny Guinn to name Nevada as the 'Health Freedom State.'"
In 2006, Forsythe was charged with two counts of illegally distributing an unapproved form of human growth hormone. In 2007, when the case was tried, the judge dismissed one of the counts and the jury acquitted Forsythe of the other count. Forsythe subsequently filed suits in California and Nevada charging that this prosecution had been malicious, but these suits and a subsequent appeal were unsuccessful.
BEFORE THE BOARD OF MEDICAL EXAMINERS
OF THE STATE OF NEVADA
* * * * *
In The Matter of Charges and
JAMES FORSYTHE, M.D.,
No. Case No. 09-4382-1
Filed January 28, 2009
The Investigative Committee of the Board of Medical Examiners of the state of Nevada, composed of Charles N. Held, M.D., Chairman, Cindy Lamerson, M.D., Member, and Jean Stoess, M.A., Member, by and through Lyn E. Beggs, General Counsel for the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners, having a reasonable basis to believe that James Forsythe, M.D., has violated the provisions of NRS Chapter 630, hereby issues its formal Complaint, stating the Investigative Committee's charges and allegations, as follows:
1. Dr. Forsythe is currently licensed in active status, and was so licensed by the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners, hereinafter referred to as "the Board," on September 4, 1974 (License No. 2864), pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 630 of the Nevada Revised Statutes, and at all times addressed herein was so licensed.
2. Patient A was a seventy-one year old male at the time of the beginning of the events set forth in this complaint. His true identify is not disclosed to protect his privacy, but his identity is disclosed in the Patient Designation served on Dr. Forsythe along with a copy of this Complaint.
3. Patient A was a long standing patient of Dr. Forsythe. In June 2002, Patient A presented to Dr. Forsythe. Lab work completed in June 2002, showed Patient A had a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) level of 3.7 ng/mL.
4. Patient A returned to Dr. Forsythe in August 2002 for a routine follow-up exam. A digital rectal examination was performed during which a 1 cm right prostate lobe nodule was discovered.
5. Patient A had lab work performed in early September 2002 which indicated a PSA level of 5.9 ng/mL. Patient A returned to Dr. Forsythe who diagnosed Patient A with prostate nodule cancer and informed Patient A of such. At the same visit Dr. Forsythe administered an injection of Zoladex, otherwise known as goserelin, often used to treat prostate cancer.
6. Dr. Forsythe failed to obtain any tissue biopsy or obtain any further diagnostic studies before rendering his diagnosis of prostate cancer.
7. Patient A once again underwent lab work in December 2002 at which time his PSA level was indicated to be 1.8 ng/mL.
8. Patient A returned to Dr. Forsythe in January 2003 at which time Dr. Forsythe again injected Patient A with Zoladex. A third injection of Zoladex was administered at a follow up appointment in April 2003.
9. Lab work performed in April 2003 indicated that Patient A's PSA level had decreased to 1.0 ng/ml. and subsequent lab tests performed in August 2003 indicated a further drop to 0.6 ng/mL.
10. Patient A saw Dr. Forsythe in December 2003 and January 2004, but was then followed by physicians outside of the Reno area until August 2004 when he was again seen by Dr. Forsythe. In August 2004, lab work indicated Patient A's PSA level was 4.9 ng/ml. In December 2004, Patient A's PSA level decreased slightly to 4.5 ng/mL.
11. Patient A's PSA level remained steady at 4.5 ng/mL according to lab results from March 23, 2005. Also on March 23, 2005, Patient received a final injection of Zoladex.
12. Patient A's PSA level as of April 19, 2005 was 17.2 ng/ml. He was seen shortly thereafter in the emergency room for urinary retention and followed up with Dr. Jonathan GareySage for treatment. During the course of Patient A's treatment with Dr. Garey-Sage, a prostate needle biopsy was performed which was negative for prostate cancer.
13. Nevada Administrative Code Section 630.040 defines malpractice as the failure of a physician, in treating a patient, to use the reasonable care, skill, or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances.
14. Nevada Revised Statute Section 630.301(4) provides that malpractice is grounds for initiating disciplinary action against a licensee.
15. Dr. Forsythe failed to use the reasonable care, skill, or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances when he failed to properly diagnose whether Patient A truly had prostate cancer before treating him for the alleged prostate cancer and thus he has violated NRS 630.301(4).
16. By reason of the foregoing, Dr. Forsythe is subject to discipline by the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners as provided in Section 630.352 of the Nevada Revised Statutes.
17. Nevada Administrative Code Section 630.040 defines malpractice as the failure of a physician, in treating a patient, to use the reasonable care, skill, or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances.
18. Nevada Revised Statute Section 630.301(4) provides that malpractice is grounds for initiating disciplinary action against a licensee.
19. Dr. Forsythe failed to use the reasonable care, skill, or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances when he informed Patient A that he had prostate cancer without making a proper diagnosis of the alleged cancer and thus he has violated NRS 630.301(4).
20. By reason of the foregoing, Dr. Forsythe is subject to discipline by the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners as provided in Section 630.352 of the Nevada Revised Statutes.
WHEREFORE, the Investigative Committee prays:
1. That the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners fix a time and place for a formal hearing;
2. That the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners give Respondent, notice of the charges herein against him, the time and place set for the hearing, and the possible sanctions against him;
3. That the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners determine what sanctions to impose for the violation or violations committed by Respondent; and
4. That the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners make, issue and serve on Respondent its findings of fact, conclusions of law and order, in writing, that includes the sanctions imposed; and
5. That the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners take such other and further action as may be just and proper in these premises.
DATED this 28th day of January, 2009.
INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEE OF
THE NEVADA STATE BOARD OF MEDICAL EXAMINERS
Lyn E. Beggs
General Counsel and Attorney for the Investigative Committee
STATE OF NEVADA
COUNTY OF DOUGLAS
Charles N. Held, M.D., having been duly sworn, hereby deposes and states under penalty of perjury that he is the Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners that authorized the complaint against the Respondent herein; that he has read the foregoing Complaint; and that based upon information discovered in the course of the investigation into a complaint against Respondent, he believes that the allegations and charges in the foregoing Complaint against Respondent are true, accurate, and correct.
DATED this 28th day of January, 2009.
Charles N. Held, M.D.
This page was revised on May 11, 2013.