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Red Flags About Md. Man Ignored

Levitt also asked doctors at a Rockville clinic where he worked to write prescriptions for him, sometimes calling them at 2 a.m.

In July 1998, clinic staff said Levitt showed up appearing to be "intoxicated and/or under the influence of medication or controlled substances," according to board records. He performed acupuncture on a patient but abandoned her with the needles still in her body. "That was my fault. I forgot that she was there," he said in an interview, denying that he had been under the influence. "They used that as an excuse to fire me."

Margie Galanos, formerly of Maryland, spent 46 days in a critical-care unit with a punctured bladder and bowel after a laparoscopy by Jeffrey M. Levitt. "I was in so much pain that I just prayed to God to let me pass out," she said. Levitt blamed contaminated equipment. (Erik S. Lesser For The Washington Post)

SUNDAY: Doctors with substance abuse problems are allowed to keep practicing, often despite relapses, and medical boards rarely revoke licenses.
Physicians Practice Despite Abuse
Some Doctors Sent to Rehab

MONDAY: A physician in Maryland or Virginia is twice as likely to be punished as a doctor in the District, where the medical board's record of serious disciplinary action has been among the lowest in the country.
D.C. Board Rarely Punishes Doctors
Despite Deaths, D.C. License Upheld
Graphic: Medical Discipline

TUESDAY: Doctors who are disciplined often restart their careers by moving to a another state, despite a federal system meant to prevent physicians from hiding troubled pasts.
Track Record of Lies, Job Dismissals
Red Flags About Md. Man Ignored
Multiple Licenses to Conceal History

The Movements of Pamela L. Johnson

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The Medical Community: Arthur Caplan, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania discussed bioethics.

Many state medical boards allow you to search for your doctors' standing and medical compliance history.

The Maryland board suspended Levitt's license in 1999 and revoked it for five years in 2000 after finding that he again had sex with patients, had questionable prescribing practices and practiced acupuncture without a state registration. He is eligible to apply for reinstatement this year. Levitt, 49, now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., with his wife, a former patient who once filed a complaint with the Maryland medical board, saying that they had a sexual relationship, that he used her to procure drugs and that he had thrown her across the room.

The Maryland board should have been tougher on Levitt, argued Sandra Brown, who claimed he tore her colon 12 years ago during a uterine laparoscopy. Brown, who lives in Prince George's County, said she was in so much pain after the surgery that she couldn't sit up or eat for more than a week.

"I called him every other day about the pain, and he kept telling me it was gas," she said. Eventually, surgeons removed eight inches of her colon, she said.

Brown, 47, sued Levitt. She settled the case for an undisclosed amount in 1997, she said. Levitt said he told Brown that the surgery was high-risk.

"She knew that," he said in the interview. "She had damage, but it wasn't because I was neglectful. With laser [surgery], you don't see certain things."

Another former Maryland patient, Margie Galanos, sued Levitt, alleging that he punctured her bladder and bowel during a laparoscopy in 1991.

"When I got home, I was in so much pain that I just prayed to God to let me pass out," said Galanos, 43, who lives near Athens, Ga.

"I spent 46 days in a critical-care unit after what should have been a simple laparoscopy."

Galanos said she was unable to have children after the procedure. Her suit was settled for an undisclosed amount in 1997.

Levitt denied puncturing Galanos's bladder and bowel and said her problems were caused by contaminated equipment. "It wasn't due to the handling of the practitioner," he said. "She's right. It should have been simple. But lo and behold, [expletive] happens."

Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.

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