Psychiatrist Is Seeking To Regain Va. License

By Sandra G. Boodman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 31, 2008

A well-known Arlington County psychiatrist who was stripped of his medical licenses in Virginia and the District for negligence, inappropriate and excessive prescribing of drugs for patients as young as 4 and sexually intimate behavior with a patient is trying to get his license back.

Martin H. Stein, 67, is scheduled to appear today at a public reinstatement hearing before the Virginia Board of Medicine in Richmond. Stein has told colleagues he was suffering from undiagnosed bipolar disorder when he treated many of the 10 patients described in a consent order he signed in 2002, surrendering his license for a year. He agreed not to contest the findings in the order but did not admit they were true.

The three-member panel will consider whether Stein is competent to practice and will consider the cases of 17 additional patients he treated from 1994 to 2002, some of whom filed complaints after he was suspended.

In response to Stein's reinstatement petition, the board filed a 15-page report alleging that he "repeatedly endangered" patients by overprescribing drugs or prescribing doses exceeding safe levels; provided false information to insurance companies; and crossed ethical boundaries by e-mailing a patient's ex-boyfriend, hugging another patient and referring a third to a divorce lawyer while also treating her husband.

"Why would it be in the public interest to reinstate the license of a practitioner with this kind of history?" asked Arthur Levin, a lawyer who directs the New York-based Center for Medical Consumers.

Reached by telephone at his Georgetown home, Stein, who had been receiving disability payments, declined to comment. His attorney, Michael Goodman of Richmond, called Stein "a changed man" who is "looking for the board to give him another chance."

"I believe his mental health is an issue, and I believe he will address that," said Goodman, who specializes in representing doctors in disciplinary hearings. He declined to discuss Stein's history or the 17 new cases.

Until his suspension, Stein, who has degrees from Harvard and Yale universities, operated a thriving practice in Rosslyn and was renowned in medical circles for his unorthodox practices. He had held appointments to the clinical faculty at George Washington University School of Medicine and had been named one of the area's best psychotherapists in Washingtonian magazine.

His case was detailed in a 2003 investigation by The Washington Post into the flawed, slow and secretive medical disciplinary process and the failure of doctors to report peers they believe are incompetent, impaired or addicted to drugs.

Shortly after his suspension while facing malpractice suits, Stein filed for personal bankruptcy. His D.C. license was revoked in 2003. Court records show he has been sued more than 15 times since 1995; at least 13 cases have been resolved.

Stein's quest to be reinstated raises questions about when, or if, a disciplined doctor is fit to practice again. At the time Stein was suspended, a doctor in Virginia could be barred for a maximum of 12 months.

In the past six years, Stein has been "doing a lot of introspection," according to his lawyer, as well as attending meetings, reading, writing and conducting research.

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