An Ocean View dermatologist is reportedly practicing medicine in blatant disregard of his being on probation, and the Delaware Attorney General’s Office is calling for his license to be revoked.
On Aug. 14, the AG’s Office submitted an official Complaint and Motion for Temporary Suspension of Dr. Lindsay Brathwaite, M.D., who practices at the Center for Dermatology offices in Dover and at 118 Atlantic Avenue in Ocean View.
In October of 2014, Brathwaite was punished with five years’ probation that prohibits him from performing biopsies and surgical procedures, plus a $10,000 fine for “willful and wanton negligence” of patient safety. The Delaware Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline (BMLD) found that he only seemed to diagnose patients by using biopsies (instead of less-invasive procedures) and that his unsterilized equipment could lead to dangerous cross-contamination of blood products.
His “unsterile, incompetent and negligent practice” led to his initial penalty, this week’s report stated.
“[Brathwaite] is now repeatedly and defiantly refusing to follow that order and putting the public at risk of harm. Despite the probationary order … [Brathwaite] has continued his dermatology practice, to include performing biopsies and surgical procedures,” the complaint said.
“[He] is performing biopsies on a daily basis, and punch biopsies and excisions on a weekly basis,” the report continued. “A review of only seven patient files from October 2014 to July 2015 reveals that [Brathwaite] performed numerous non-compliant procedures, including at least 25 biopsies, eight excisions, a punch biopsy and an electrodesiccation and curettage.”
State demands license revocation … again
Due to this “dishonorable, unethical or other conduct,” the AG’s Office has requested that the state Board of Medical Licensure & Discipline temporarily suspend Brathwaite’s license “due to the clear and immediate danger he poses to the public health,” host a hearing and then find him guilty.
The AG’s Office has also suggested a permanent revocation of Brathwaite’s medical license.
Brathwaite could have lost his license altogether in 2014, but the medical board at that time rejected the hearing panel’s recommendation to do so.
“The recommendations appear to be more severe than the violations,” read the board minutes from April 2014. The board suggested it would be more reasonable to restrict Brathwaite’s surgical management, rather than his entire medical practice.
Typically, Delaware’s Division of Professional Regulation (DPR) ensures compliance with a suspension by performing random checks on the physician and by notifying pharmacies so that the physician cannot authorize prescriptions.
The first suspension
The BMLD was responding to 13 cases when it first placed Brathwaite on probation in 2014. People had filed complaints with the DPR, which passed information to the Attorney General’s Office.
The AG’s Office wrote an official complaint (as it did again this month), and after much testimony, a BMLD hearing panel recommended a permanent revocation of Brathwaite’s medical license in January of 2014, stating, “The Panel cannot find substantial evidence to support a finding that Dr. Brathwaite is capable of rehabilitating his practices to ensure the public’s safety. … Permanent revocation is the only discipline that will properly protect the public.”
Hearing to be scheduled
“I can’t comment right now on what led to the most recent suspension. I think those details will be available once the case is, obviously, heard,” said Charles “C.R.” McLeod, the Delaware Department of State’s chief community relations officer.
But, accepting that there was enough evidence to at least move forward, the BMLD signed off on the complaint, submitting it to the Secretary of State for approval.
“This is the first notification that there’s enough evidence to move forward,” McLeod said.
Brathwaite received the petition on Monday and had 24 hours to respond, if desired.
Either way, the Secretary of State could then choose to sign the order for temporary suspension, effective immediately. As of Wednesday morning, the suspension had not been signed.
Within 60 days of its signing, Brathwaite could have a hearing — the equivalent of his official trial — unless he requests a delay or an expedited hearing.
“That’s when the decision is made — that the findings aren’t valid and the temporary suspension goes away, or does there need to be a more permanent consequence,” McLeod said.
McLeod noted that the hearing would likely be scheduled before one of DPR’s administrative hearing officers, instead of the board’s entire hearing panel. The board can then accept or modify the officer’s findings, conclusions and recommendations.
“It’s a thorough and very comprehensive process,” McLeod said. “We want to protect public health, but at the same time make sure a physician or medical professional is allowed to state their case, as well.”
Protecting the public in the short term
If approved by the Secretary, the temporary suspension would just be for the doctor, not his medical center (as in June 2011, when a surprise inspection resulted in the immediate, temporary closure of both locations, due to unsterile conditions and negligence in storing controlled substances. That eventually led to the current probation.).
“The whole idea behind the temporary suspension is to protect the public until all the facts are laid out,” McLeod said. “The temporary suspension doesn’t presume guilt, but because a question has been raised and an issue needs to be investigated — it’s not in the public interest” for that physician to continue to practice, he said.
Brathwaite’s license was originally issued in 2002 and expires in March of 2017. He was unavailable for comment before the Coastal Point’s Aug. 19 press deadline. Phone calls to his Ocean View office were handled by an answering service.
People may file complaints with the Division of Professional Regulation against a person or business that holds a professional license if they believe that that entity has violated the law or rules of the profession. Learn more by contacting (302) 744-4500 or www.dpr.delaware.gov. Specific licensing information is found online for Delaware professionals at http://dpr.delaware.gov/agency/roster_request_insts.shtml.