Quantcast
Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014

Embattled doctor surrenders Utah medical license

By Geoff Liesik, Deseret News

Published: Mon, July 21 7:39 p.m. MDT

 Dr. Paul M. Gahlinger has agreed to surrender his Utah medical license under a stipulated order entered Monday, July 21, 2014. Gahlinger, how is living on the island of Saipan, was accused by the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing of prescribing controlled substances without a valid DEA certification.

Dr. Paul M. Gahlinger has agreed to surrender his Utah medical license under a stipulated order entered Monday, July 21, 2014. Gahlinger, how is living on the island of Saipan, was accused by the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing of prescribing controlled substances without a valid DEA certification.

(Dr. Paul M. Gahlinger)

SALT LAKE CITY — A doctor who was stripped of his license to prescribe controlled substances by state regulators earlier this month has surrendered his Utah medical license.

In a stipulated order entered Monday, Dr. Paul M. Gahlinger agreed to give up his license for continuing to prescribe controlled substances to patients even though he had not had held a valid Drug Enforcement Administration registration in Utah since December 2013.

"(Gahlinger) admits that the findings of fact … constitute unprofessional conduct as defined (in state law), and that said conduct justifies disciplinary action against (his) license," the stipulated order states.

State regulators determined on July 8 that Gahlinger's alleged conduct posed "an immediate threat to public health, safety and welfare" and barred him from continuing to prescribe prescription drugs.

The allegations stemmed from Gahlinger's use of the drug Suboxone to treat patients for substance abuse issues, according to an emergency order issued by the state Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.

In a telephone interview given in response to that order, Gahlinger said his treatment program for opioid dependence has saved lives and maintained that the state's case against him lacked merit.

On Monday, he told the Deseret News he decided to surrender his Utah license rather than fight back because his work at a rural hospital on the island of Saipan is too important to interrupt.

"I disagree with the charges but I am so busy here setting up our rural clinic I decided to acquiesce and surrender my Utah license to practice," he said. "It's not worth the time to fight it."

State regulators alleged that Gahlinger didn't have enough contact with his patients in Utah to "properly evaluate or take a medical record" before prescribing Suboxone, a medication used to wean people off more powerful painkillers or illicit drugs like heroin.

That's because Gahlinger lives on Saipan and only sees patients at his Medicruiser Clinic — operated out of his assistant's Uintah County home — via online video conferencing, according to the emergency order.

The order identified three of Gahlinger's patients by their initials. One patient was an obese man with high blood pressure. The other two were pregnant woman. All three received prescriptions for Suboxone and dealt almost exclusively with Kelly Reyes, a woman who works as Gahlinger's assistant but lacks any kind of state license, regulators said.

When the two female patients gave birth at Ashley Regional Medical Center in late 2013, their babies had to be monitored for withdrawals from Suboxone, according to the emergency order.

In the case of one of the women, Gahlinger, who does not have privileges at and is not affiliated with the hospital, did "little physical monitoring" of her condition and "did not communicate with (her) OBGYN," the emergency order states.

Gahlinger can reapply for a Utah medical license in three years; however, there is no guarantee his application will be approved. The surrender order he signed indicates that disciplinary action taken in Utah could also affect his licenses to practice medicine in other states.

Gahlinger, who hold a medical license in California, sounded unconcerned about that possibility.

"This is purely a Utah issue," he said. "It just seems kind of silly all the way around."

Email: gliesik@deseretnews.com, Twitter: GeoffLiesik

Recommended
1. Kralon
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA,
July 21, 2014

Doesn't seem like good quality of care based on the info in the article.

Much like the online editing of articles, e.g. "even though he had not had held a valid". But, much more serious.

2. Seek to understand
Sandy, UT,
July 21, 2014

The babies born with Suboxone would have been born with other opiates had their moms not been treated with Suboxone. Not an ideal situation, but it's not as if the babies would have been born clean, and Suboxone is the lesser of opiate evils in most cases like this.

The Dr. was able to practice in Utah most likely because we have an explosion of opiate addiction and only a few Dr.'s who are able to prescribe Suboxone (I don't understand why the limitation on this, but I've been told by Dr.'s that you have to have special training to prescribe it and you can only have a certain number of patients on it at any given time).

We are in a crisis with heroin addiction in Utah and not enough Dr.'s to treat it. I can see why he was able to do it from far away via the internet. We need a plan of action to help our families with this epidemic.

3. CKJ1
Murray, UT,
July 21, 2014

This guy treated my son for a while. He cares about one thing and only one thing,,, money. His office was nothing but a Suboxone supplier to anyone who wanted it and had the money to pay.

4. WeThePeople
Sandy, UT,
July 22, 2014

Yet another case of big government interfering with a hardworking man's livelihood....

5. nicholdraper
West Jordan, UT,
July 22, 2014

This doctor spent more time diagnosing my wife than any previous doctor. He prescribed a course of treatment that got my wife off the heaver drugs that her previous doctor would just prescribe after seconds in the exam room. Three years ago he stopped treating patiences in Utah so my wife had to find another doctor. I can understand why some of his patiences kept asking to see him even after he stopped practicing in the state. This is more of a case of him missing paying the states registration fees. He is a good doctor and still practices in California.