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A Track Record of Lies And of Job Dismissals

By Cheryl W. Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 12, 2005; Page A07

Physician Mahmoud Nemazee has had career problems over the past 18 years, but he has always resurrected himself by moving on -- to a new job in a new place.

When he was fired from the pediatric residency program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Cleveland in 1987, for example, it could have spelled the end of his career. He had been dismissed for knowing little about his patients, keeping poor records, performing unnecessary procedures on some babies and failing to provide the required ones on others, according to hospital records and medical board records in Maryland and California.

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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Nemazee went on to apply for licenses in California, Maryland, Nevada, Utah and Virginia, lying on several of the applications about being fired from a previous job, according to medical board records from those states.

"I had sued the hospital in Ohio and it wasn't settled, so my attorney advised me to say" he had never been fired, Nemazee, 54 , said in a recent interview.

"It came out later that I wasn't totally honest."

He received licenses in all but California, which initially refused him because his foreign medical school was not approved by the state.

In Maryland, he worked as a resident at Greater Baltimore Medical Center and later moved to North Arundel Hospital in Glen Burnie. And in 1992, he was hired as a medical officer at a federal prison in San Pedro, Calif., a job that accepts any state medical license.

Less than a year later, he lost the job for "unsatisfactory conduct and unsatisfactory performance of duties," California medical board records show.

"It was a long time ago," Nemazee said in the interview, declining to discuss why he was fired from the prison job and the Ohio hospital.

"I sort of forgot about it."

Nemazee's firing wouldn't have been reported to the federal data bank that compiles physician discipline information, said Bureau of Prisons spokesman Dan Dunne, because his agency didn't begin reporting until 1994, after Nemazee was fired.

Nemazee went on to work at four military hospitals between 1993 and 1997, losing his privileges at one in 1997. And in 2002, the California Medical Board issued him a license after denying him two other times for lying, according to Joyce Hadnot, the board's chief of licensing. Nemazee now practices in the Los Angeles area and additionally has active licenses in Maryland, Virginia, Nevada and Utah.

Ronald Kallen, former director of Mount Sinai's residency programs, said he fired Nemazee in 1987 because his medical skills and his ability to make sound decisions about patient care were "seriously called into question."

"I'm not surprised that he sought positions elsewhere," said Kallen, who now practices in the Chicago area. "If I was a patient, I'd be very concerned."

Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company


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