Disciplinary Actions against Howard P. Levy, D.O.


Stephen Barrett, M.D.
March 25, 2020

Howard P. Levy has been disciplined twice by the Medical Board of California. In 2006, as detailed below, he was accused of gross negligence in his management of a patient whom he had seen 65 times in his office and 3 or 4 times at the patient’s home. The treatment included several intravenous hydrogen peroxide infusions, which the board considered “experimental.” The accusation also stated that Dr. Levy’s records were not accurate in that they were “illegible, disorganized, and incomplete” and contained no consent form, no indication of what dosage was used, and no list of the patient’s problems. In 2008, the board ordered Levy to pay $15,000 for costs and serve on probation for five years, during which he was required to take a course on record-keeping and have his records monitored for one year.

In 2017, Levy was accused of negligence, inadequate record-keeping, and/or administering treatments that were not medically indicated to seven patients and one undercover investigator from the board. The case was settled with a stipulation under which Levy was assessed $15,000 for costs and serve five more years of probation, during which he was required to (a) complete a clinical competency assessment and training program; (b) take continuing education courses in pharmacology and medical ethics; and (c) have his practice monitored for at least two years.

The Michigan Department of  Licensing and Regulatory Web site indicates that between 1996 and 2003, Levy was suspended once, placed on probation three times, and fined four times. The details are not posted, but the 2017 California complaint states that the suspension was due to a conviction for fraudulent billing.



BEFORE THE
OSTEOPATHIC MEDICAL BOARD OF CALIFORNIA
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS
STATE OF CALIFORNIA

In the Matter of the Accusation Against:

HOWARD P. LEVY, D.O.
1700 N. Via Norte
Palm Springs, CA 92262

Osteopathic Physician and Surgeon Certificate No. 20A4148

Respondent.


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Case No. 00-2005-001494

OAH NO.

ACCUSATION

Complainant alleges:

PARTIES

1. Donald Krpan (Complainant) brings this Accusation solely in his officcapacity as the Executive Director (A) of the Osteopathic Medical Board of California.

2. On or about August 3, 1977, the Osteopathic Medical Board of California issued Osteopathic Physician’s and Surgeon’s Certificate No. 20A4148 to HOWARD P. LEVY, D.O. (Respondent). The Osteopathic Physician’s and Surgeon’s Certificate was in full force and effect at all times relevant to the charges brought herein and will expire on February 29, 2008, unless renewed.

JURISDICTION

3. This Accusation is brought before the Osteopathic Medical Board of California, under the authority of the following laws. All section references are to the Business and Professions Code unless otherwise indicated.

4. Section 2234 of the Code states:

“The Division of Medical Quality shall take action against any licensee who is charged with unprofessional conduct. In addition to other provisions of this article, unprofessional conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

“(a) Violating or attempting to violate, directly or indirectly, assisting in or abetting the violation of, or conspiring to violate any provision of this chapter.

“(b) Gross negligence.

“(c) Repeated negligent acts. To be repeated, there must be two or more negligent acts or omissions. An initial negligent act or omission followed by a separate and distinct departure from the applicable standard of care shall constitute repeated negligent acts.

(1) An initial negligent diagnosis fo11owed by an act or omission medically appropriate for that negligent diagnosis of the patient shall constitute a single negligent act.

“(2) When the standard of care requires a change in the diagnosis, act, or omission that constitutes the negligent act described in paragraph (I), including, but not limited to, a reevaluation of the diagnosis or a change in treatment, and the licensee’s conduct departs from the applicable standard of care, each departure constitutes a separate and distinct breach of the standard of care.

“(d) Incompetence.

“(e) The commission of any act involving dishonesty or corruption which is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a physician and surgeon. “(f) Any action or conduct which would have warranted the denial of a certificate. “(g) The practice of medicine from this state into another state or country without meeting the legal requirements of that state or country for the practice of medicine. Section 2314 shall not apply to this subdivision. This subdivision shall become operative upon the implementation of the proposed registration program described in Section 2052.5.”

5. Section 3600 of the Code states that the law governing licentiates of the Osteopathic Medical Board of California is found in the Osteopathic Act and in Chapter 5 of Division 2, relating to medicine.

6. Section 3600-2 of the Code states:

The Osteopathic Medical Board of California shall enforce those portions of the Medical Practice Act identified as Article 12 (commencing with Section 2220), of Chapter 5 of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code, as now existing or hereafter amended, as to persons who hold certificates subject to the jurisdiction of the Osteopathic Medical Board of California, however, persons who elect to practice using the term or suffix 11M.D.11 as provided in Section 2275 of the Business and Professions Code, as now existing or hereafter amended, shall not be subject to this section, and the Medical Board of California shall enforce the provisions of the article as to persons who make the election. After making the election, each person so electing shall apply for renewal of his or her certificate to the Medical Board of California, and the Medical Board of California shall issue renewal certificates in the same manner as other renewal certificates are issued by it.”

7. Section 2266 of the Code states: “The failure of a physician and surgeon to maintain adequate and accurate records relating to the provision of services to their patients constitutes unprofessional conduct.”

8. Section 125.3 of the Code states, in pertinent part, that the Board may request the administrative law judge to direct a licentiate found to have committed a violation or violations of the licensing act to pay a sum not to exceed the reasonable costs of the investigation and enforcement of the case.

FIRST CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE
(Gross Negligence)

9. Respondent is subject to disciplinary action under Code sections 3600, 3600-2 and 2234 as defined by 2234 (b) in that he was grossly negligent in connection with his care, treatment and management of patient P.K. The circumstances are as follows:

10. Between on or about February 16, 2004, and March 11, 2005, P.K., a then 82-year-old male, was a patient of Respondent. Respondent saw P.K. for approximately 65 office visits and respondent treated P.K. on three or four home visits.

11. During this time, most of the care provided to P.K. by Respondent was directed to five chronic medical problems which included COPD, chronic olecranon bursitis, osteoarthritis of the knees, lower urinary tract symptoms and chronic oropharyngeal discomfort attributed to a fungal infection (yeast).

12. Respondent did not believe that P.K.’s oropharyngeal discomfort or respiratory distress and possible fungal (yeast) infection was being adequately treated with conventional therapy and recommended to P.K. that he undergo a series of treatments by intravenous infusion of hydrogen peroxide. Although Respondent knew and told his patient that the use of hydrogen peroxide was experimental, he did not follow approved research protocol for its use nor did he document the patient’s consent to the experimental use of hydrogen peroxide. Respondent treated P.K. with hydrogen peroxide on several occasions.

13. Patient P.K. also suffered from chronic olecranon bursitis. The olecranon is located at the posterior point of the elbow and has a synovial membrane that may become affected by gout, rheumatoid arthritis, sepsis, hemorrhage, or trauma. Fluid accumulated in the patient’s olecranon bursa and Respondent treated the condition by joint aspiration on eight occasions. On or about January 10, 2005, following the seventh aspiration, Respondent sent the synovial fluid to a laboratory for analysis but did not request a bacterial culture. Respondent never recommended surgical removal as definitive treatment.

14. Between on or about January 27, 2005, and February 9, 2005, Respondent diagnosed P.K. with interstitial fibrosis and treated him with Imuran (azathioprine). The medical records do not contain medical evidence or findings to support the diagnosis or the use of Imuran, a powerful drug with potential adverse reactions. Also, Respondent did. not consider that the use of experimental hydrogen peroxide might be the cause of P.K.’s condition.

15. The Respondent’s medical records for P.K. are not adequate or accurate in that they are illegible, disorganized, and incomplete. There is no initial history and physical examination of the patient, no general consent form, no specific consent form for the use of experimental hydrogen peroxide treatment, no report of the concentration of hydrogen peroxide used when administered, and no problem list.

SECOND CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE

Repeated Negligent Acts)

16. Respondent is subject to disciplinary action under Code sections 3600, 3600-2 and 2234 as defined by 2234 (c) in that he was repeatedly negligent in connection with his care, treatment and management of patient P. K. as set forth in paragraphs 9- 15 above which are incorporated herein by reference as though fully set forth.

THIRD CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE

(Incompetence)

17. Respondent is subject to disciplinary action under Code sections 3600, 3600-2 and 2234 as defined by 2234 (d) in that he was incompetent in connection with his care, treatment and management of patient P. K. as set forth in paragraphs 9-1 5 above which are incorporated herein by reference as though fully set forth.

FOURTH CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE

(Records)

18. Respondent is subject to disciplinary action under Code sections 3600, 3600-2 and 2234 as defined by 2266 in that his medical records for patient P.K. are neither adequate nor accurate as set forth in paragraphs 9-15 above which are incorporated herein by reference as though fully set forth.

PRAYER

WHEREFORE, Complainant requests that a hearing be held on the matters herein alleged, and that following the hearing, the Osteopathic Medical Board of California issue a decision:

1. Revoking or suspending Osteopathic Physician and Surgeon Number 20A4148, issued to HOWARD P. LEVY, D.O.

2. Ordering HOWARD P. LEVY, D.O. to pay the Osteopathic Medical Board of California the reasonable costs of the investigation and enforcement of this case, pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 125.3; and, if placed on probation, the costs of probation monitoring; and,

3. Taking such other and further action as deemed necessary and proper.

DATED: 7-20-06

________________________
DONALD KRPAN
Executive Director
Osteopathic Medical Board of California
State of California
Complainant

BILL LOCKYER, Attorney General of the State of California
HARINDER K. KAPUR, State Bar No. 198769
Deputy Attorney General California
Department of Justice
110 West “A” Street, Suite 1100
San Diego, CA 92101
P.O. Box 85266
San Diego, CA 92186-5266
Telephone: (619) 645-2075
Facsimile: (619) 645-2061

Attorneys for Complainant

This page was posted on March 25, 2010.