Ariz. - The Arizona Medical Board voted unanimously today (12-0) to accept a proposed consent agreement that permanently bans Ophthalmologist Gary W. Hall, M.D., from performing or assisting in all surgery. He also agreed to a five-year probationary period during which time he must retain an office practice management consultant to revise his record-keeping system. The disciplinary action takes effect immediately.
The consent agreement involves six cases that the Board had originally referred to a formal hearing for disciplinary action. The Board vote rescinded that referral. The findings from the investigation show that Dr. Hall continues to engage in the same substandard practice that resulted in Board-ordered discipline in 1996, 1997 and 1999.
Investigators determined that Dr. Hall makes ill-advised surgical recommendations, failing to listen to or provide proper advice to his patients. They found he used “macros” to generate boilerplate language in his medical records that are often unrelated to the patient.
Some members of the Arizona Medical Board said they would have liked the disciplinary action to be tougher.
Dr. Sharon Megdal, PhD., a public member of the Board, noted that “Dr. Hall‘s actions have imposed a lot of costs on this agency,” and she though a fine might have also been appropriate. She also questioned the imposition of a five-year probationary period. She asked, “What does that mean? Should it be ten years?”
Dr. Patrick Connell, M.D., a physician member of the Board, agreed with Dr. Megdal, but pointed out “consent agreements are like legislation – you never get everything that you want.” He commended the Board‘s legal counsel for doing a good job. “This takes a doctor that‘s had repetitive and egregious errors in surgery before this board, year after year after year… out of the surgical practice and that‘s probably the best we can hope for,” Connell said.
Dr. Robert Goldfarb, M.D., a physician member of the Board, called it a satisfactory consent agreement because “we retain jurisdiction to take additional remedial disciplinary action when something else is found.” Dr. Ram Krishna, M.D., a physician member of the Board, concurred. “I think this is a win-win situation for everybody – it was well done,” he said.
Chairman Dr. Timothy Hunter, M.D., concluded the discussion by saying, “I would love to have revocation to be honest with you, but this is practical and it‘s immediate and has a good effect.”
The Board maintains the consent agreement protects the public‘s safety, even though it does allow Dr. Hall to retain his medical license and continue practicing in a limited capacity. The consent agreement prevents him from making surgical judgment, performing surgery and providing post-surgical care, which are all areas that repeatedly result in complaints to the Board.
Dr. Hall has an extensive disciplinary history with the Board. He is subject to two earlier consent agreements, the first entered in 1996 and the second in 1999. The first resolved seven open investigations and imposed a three-year probationary term with requirements that Dr. Hall comply with recognized guidelines for radial keratotomy surgery and establish a system to ensure that patients are properly informed about the surgery, before surgery is performed. The second consent agreement censured Dr. Hall for unprofessional conduct. That board action permanently banned him from performing radial keratotomy, prohibited him from performing LASIK surgery until he completed a comprehensive course on LASIK surgery, and placed him on three years probation.
Additionally in 1997, the Board issued Dr. Hall a Letter of Reprimand for unprofessional conduct involving inappropriate advertising, fees for services not rendered, misrepresenting Board certification, and failure to furnish information to the Arizona Medical Board.