Connecticut Pediatrician Sanctioned for Lyme Disease MalpracticeDec 24, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP
A New Haven pediatrician was reprimanded for medical malpractice, after “diagnosing” and “treating” Lyme disease over the phone. Dr. Charles Ray Jones was fined $10,000, and placed on two years probation by Connecticut state regulators this week. The Connecticut Medical Examining Board voted unanimously to impose sanctions when they confirmed that the 77-year old New Haven doctor violated care standards by diagnosing Lyme disease in two children and prescribing antibiotics based on a phone conversation with their mother, months before examined them. The board found Jones broke standards by failing to reconsider his diagnoses of the children when lab tests results were negative for the tick-borne disease and that Jones was wrong to prescribe antibiotics for nearly a year without repeat exams and with no arrangements with another doctor—the patients live out of state, in Nevada—to monitor side effects and results of long-term antibiotic therapy.
Jones’s lawyer, Elliott Pollack, said he will appeal the board's decision adding, "This board has made a very serious error without sufficient evidence and contrary to compelling evidence," saying the board's ruling was "a classic example of government treading where it's not ready to tread." Pollack compared Jones to other "nonconformists" ostracized by the medical community before having their innovations validated. Jones, who says he has treated over 10,000 children with Lyme disease, insists long-term antibiotics are the best remedy and believes doctors fail to diagnose Lyme disease because patients don't have what the medical establishment says are the telltale symptoms: Rash and achy joints. Jones says under 10% of Lyme patients have the rash when seen by a doctor.
Two major medical associations released guidelines in the past year that found no good evidence that long-term antibiotics helped and warned that serious side effects—including drug-resistance to super germs—can result from long-term antibiotic use. Also, there is no test to confirm active Lyme disease. The tests generally confirm the presence of infection-fighting antibodies, which often take weeks to form but linger long after Lyme is gone. Jones argues that many tests are unreliable and many doctors stop considering Lyme if tests are negative.
Pollack told the Medical Examining Board that Jones did not formally diagnose or treat the Nevada children until after he examined them and said the children are now doing well. "When is the last time this board punished a physician for curing patients?" Pollack asked the board. Dr. David Goldenberg, a member of the Medical Examining Board, strongly took issue with many of Pollack's contentions. "Your argument has more holes in it than a watering can," Goldenberg said, adding that the board was not trying to set new standards for treating Lyme disease. "It's obvious to me that the standard of care was breached not one, but many times—the old standard of care," he said. As to Pollack comparing Jones to the "nonconformists," Goldenberg said history is probably filled with thousands of doctors who were wrong and mistreated their patients with experimental care. The board voted shortly after Goldenberg's remarks. "It's not over by any means," Jones said. "This is going to be challenged."
Lyme disease can cause painful arthritis, meningitis, and other serious illnesses if not treated promptly.