West Virginia authorities have suspended a pain management physician's license after an investigation revealed the reuse of syringes for patient injections.
Roland Chalifoux Jr., DO, the operator and sole practitioner at Valley Pain Management in McMechen, W.Va., was given 15 days to request a hearing after the state Board of Osteopathic Medicine's ruling last week.
The investigation of Dr. Chalifoux's clinic began after one of his patients contracted bacterial meningitis in October 2013. This infection led West Virginia and Ohio health departments to urge patients who'd undergone injections at the clinic since its opening in 2010 to get tested for HIV and hepatitis B and C.
In addition to reusing syringes, Dr. Chalifoux also allegedly did not wear a surgical mask while administering epidural injections, says state epidemiologist Loretta Haddy, PhD, MS, MA.
This isn't the first time Dr. Chalifoux's license has been subject to disciplinary action. In 2004, the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners revoked it, citing Dr. Chalifoux's repeated failure to meet the standard of care in patient treatment, including the 1996 death of a patient after unnecessary surgery.
In a written statement sent in response to a request for comment, Dr. Chalifoux objected to Ohio health authorities' misreporting of the West Virginia investigators' findings, which he said led to inaccurate news accounts of reused syringes. He says his practice has cooperated with West Virginia health authorities' requests. His statement does not, however, address the issue of his suspended license.
Dr. Chalifoux says he is preparing to appeal the license suspension, and questions why it took the board so long after the investigation to act on its suspicions. "If I was guilty in October 2013, they should never have allowed me to practice and expose other patients," he writes in an e-mail.