Moses Lake doctor surrenders license

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MOSES LAKE — A Moses Lake physician has agreed to give up his license to practice medicine. Physician David Earl agreed to surrender his license July 17, and has 10 days to transfer his patients to other doctors and close his practice, according to a press release from the Washington Department of Health.

Earl said he would give up his license during a six-day disciplinary hearing before the Washington Medical Commission.

A receptionist at Earl’s clinic said there would be no comment.

“In the case of Dr. Earl, the WMC spent significant time and resources over a period of years in an attempt to improve his practice to safe levels. Unfortunately, it became clear that his practice concerns and boundary violations could not be addressed and the WMC invoked (the state regulations governing) license surrender, to which Dr. Earl agreed,” wrote Micah Matthews, WMC deputy director.

The hearing involved charges of unprofessional conduct filed in June 2017, related to the treatment given to 18 patients and the sale of property of another patient. The report also said Earl had failed to comply with a prior order issued by the commission.

The unprofessional conduct charge was in connection with Earl’s treatment of a woman described as Patient A, who was 82 years of age when Earl became her physician in 2013. Earl arranged to buy the woman’s house, in partnership with a friend. The commission said Earl’s “involvement in Patient A’s personal affairs, at a time when she was by definition a vulnerable adult, was below the standard of care. Respondent (Earl) was in a position of trust and influence as the patient’s physician, and took advantage of that position to gain undue influence in the patient’s financial matters to gain ownership of her property.”

The commission statement said Earl’s “medical records of his treatment of Patient A reflect poor quality of office visits, and show more of a concern for Patient A’s living and financial situations than her health. Documentation of office visits was inaccurate, contradictory, incomplete and misleading.”

The commission statement also charged Earl with “irresponsible behavior” in prescriptions for Patient A, giving the patient early refills “without a documented reason for the increased use.”

The commission statement alleged Earl had not provided adequate treatment for a 63-year-old woman whom he treated from June 2015 until her death in May 2016. The woman had been treated for substance abuse, but the medical commission statement said Earl had prescribed medications that “were not a good choice for medication for a patient with a history of alcoholism or other substance abuse.”

Earl “misrepresented either that he reviewed (the woman’s previous physician’s) records or that he had no notice of Patient B’s history of substance abuse,” the commission statement said. “Respondent’s record keeping and tracking of medications make it difficult to track Patient B’s treatment and were below the standard of care.”

The statement cited 17 people Earl had treated for chronic pain, and said his treatment “failed to meet the standard of care and placed the patients at risk of harm.”

The medical commission statement said Earl had not met the conditions of an earlier order, issued in 2012. That order was issued to “address practice below the standard of care with five patients and charting so grossly inaccurate and misleading that it amounted to misrepresentation of the patient consultations and evaluations.”

Earl’s license was placed on probation, and he was required to attend additional training. The report said Earl was in compliance at the first review, but out of compliance by the third review and never got back in compliance.

Under the conditions of the order, Earl cannot practice medicine in Washington, “including any temporary, emergency or volunteer practice.”

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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