Board suspends license of clinic where syringes were reused
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A West Virginia board Friday suspended the license of the operator of a pain management clinic where investigators found syringes were being reused. It was the second disciplinary action involving the doctor’s license within a decade.
The West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine suspended the license of Dr. Roland Chalifoux Jr. during a closed-door emergency meeting. Chalifoux wasn’t present but will be given 15 days to request a hearing.
Board executive director Diana Shepard said Chalifoux is the only licensed doctor at Valley Pain Management in McMechen, effectively shutting down the business in West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle.
Chalifoux’s attorney, Elgine McArdle, didn’t immediately return a telephone message Friday.
Health officials in Ohio and West Virginia on Monday advised patients who had an injection between the clinic’s 2010 opening and Nov. 1, 2013, to be tested for blood-borne infections after a patient contracted bacterial meningitis last October.
Health officials said the clinic’s injection practices potentially exposed patients to diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.
West Virginia’s state epidemiologist Dr. Loretta Haddy has said an investigation found the clinic reused syringes on more than one patient, Chalifoux didn’t wear a surgical mask during epidural injections and that the facility had other sanitation issues. Haddy declined to disclose where the meningitis diagnosis occurred.
Bacterial meningitis is contagious, can cause swelling of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord and can be fatal. Survivors can suffer mental disabilities, hearing loss and paralysis. It is spread through saliva or mucous.
Health agencies from Ohio and West Virginia had requested a patient list from the clinic in order to notify patients of their potential risk of exposure and testing options. When the clinic balked, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources subpoenaed the clinic for the list “and is prepared to institute additional legal action if the clinic does not comply,” DHHR spokesman Toby Wagoner said.
McArdle has said a subpoena violates health privacy laws and she plans to make a motion to quash the subpoena.
In 2004, the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners revoked Chalifoux’s license for violating standards of care in his treatment of three patients, including the 1996 death of a 61-year-old man after unnecessary surgery was performed, according to the board’s final order.
A Texas appeals court affirmed the license revocation.
The West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine, which was aware of the disciplinary action in Texas, granted Chalifoux a restricted license in 2004 so he could complete a neurosurgery refresher course at West Virginia University’s medical school. An unrestricted license was granted in 2005.