Press-Republican

October 31, 2013

Candidate admitted negligence in medical practice

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — A Franklin County Legislature candidate was suspended from practicing medicine for overprescribing painkillers that may have addicted some patients and profited others.

Dr. Carl Sherwin didn’t contest three of seven charges lodged against him by the State Health Department’s Office of Professional Misconduct and Physician Discipline. He said he retired rather than fight the accusations because a legal battle would have cost him $100,000.

He is running for the District 4 seat on the County Legislature against incumbent Republican Marc “Tim” Lashomb.

‘NO COINCIDENCE’

Sherwin said he has focused his campaign only on the facts.

“Franklin County is in trouble, and that particular aspect (of his career) is not relevant to Franklin County as a whole,” he said.

Sherwin felt the timing of the information becoming public so close to Election Day was no coincidence.

“I have never been in politics, so I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know how this information got out, but somebody must be a little worried,” he said.

“I’ve made some fairly strong points, and I’m in a position of being supported enough that apparently there is an effort not to respond to the issues but to divert attention.”

‘FOCUS ON ISSUES’

Lashomb said he was not responsible for the information coming to light, and he wants to move past it.

“What we need to focus on are the issues and who is the best person to represent the people of Franklin County in District 4,” the incumbent said. 

“If the people feel that Tim Lashomb has done a good job and they want him to continue, then that’s fine.

“But if they want to vote for Carl Sherwin, they can do that,” Lashomb said. “I respect Carl. I’ve known him for years, and my response is that I wouldn’t do something like that (make the suspension known), and I’m not involved in that way, either. 

“I hope Carl understands that I wouldn’t do something like that.”

SUSPENDED LICENSE

Sherwin was also accused of failing to follow up on suspicions that at least two of his patients were selling their prescriptions and that two others were becoming addicted to the drugs he prescribed.

Seven charges of professional misconduct were brought against him, and he admitted to three: negligence on more than one occasion, incompetence on more than one occasion and failure to maintain records.  

The State Department of Health Board of Professional Medical Conduct suspended his medical license for three years as of May 9 and ordered him to serve three years’ probation.

He is also barred him from treating patients with chronic pain and from prescribing Methadone and/or Suboxone.

‘BUSINESS DECISION’

Sherwin retains his medical license, but he was ordered to no longer have a solo private practice unless monitored by a licensed physician.

“The experts told me I should fight it, but it came down to I didn’t want to spend $100,000. All of this ended in 2007 and was dropped six years ago,” he said.

“If I had decided to go through the whole rigmarole of fighting it, the lawyers and experts were confident we would win it, but what sense did it make if I spent $100,000 when I planned to retire anyway?”

Bottom line, he said, it was a business decision.

“I had intended to retire, and to fight this would have cost me $80,000 to $100,000. I did that because it was easier to simply accept the three charges, which were arguable,” he said.

“I probably should have fought it, but it didn’t make sense from my perspective. I am still a licensed physician, and I haven’t done any of those cases in six years, and I don’t want to.

“None of this had a significant change on my practice.”

‘IMPROPER PRESCRIPTIONS’

According to the Office of Professional Misconduct, Sherwin’s case involved six patients who were identified only by a letter.  

Patient A was treated from May 6, 2002, to Aug. 11, 2005, and Sherwin was accused of failing to follow up on a chart notation that the person might be selling his prescriptions for Duragesic, prescribing the man both Vicodin and Percocet at the same time and keeping incomplete medical records.

Patient B was treated from Sept. 4, 2002, to Nov. 14, 2007, and the Misconduct Office said Sherwin prescribed Oxycontin but failed to document it or to follow up on a concern that the patient was addicted to it, prescribed Methadone with Avinza, prescribed Duragesic in inappropriate dosages, prescribed Marinol for no valid medical reason, failed to refer the patient to a pain clinic and kept incomplete records.

Patient C was treated from March 15, 2002, to Dec. 20, 2007, and the physician was accused of inappropriately prescribing the person a combination of Duragesic and Methadone.

Patient D was treated from Sept. 10, 2001, to Dec. 21, 2007, and Sherwin was accused of failing to properly document the treatment, prescribing Oxycontin and Methadone without a valid medical reason, failing to follow up on a notation that the patient was abusing or selling his prescriptions and continuing to prescribe Oxycontin and Methadone despite his concern about a possible addiction.

Patient E was treated from March 25, 2005, to March 24, 2008, and Sherwin was accused of prescribing inappropriate dosages of Duragesic, improperly prescribing Duragesic and Methadone together and failing to discontinue or document discontinuation use of Soma before prescribing muscle relaxants.

Patient F was treated from June 10, 1999, to March 13, 2008, and Sherwin was accused of failing to perform or properly document an adequate initial evaluation of the patient, prescribing inappropriate dosages of Duragesic and Fentanyl and failing to maintain accurate medical records.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com