Modern Medical doctor charged following Contact 13 investigation
Photo: Video by ktnv.com
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The state has filed charges against a local doctor following a Contact 13 investigation.
As Darcy Spears explains, the doctor is under fire for allowing her assistant to run her medical practice.
What you don't see at Modern Medical has the state very concerned.
The doctor, they say, is not in.
Dr. Darby Clayson's name is on the door. She's listed as the supervising physician. In fact, the only actual doctor on Modern Medical's staff.
But the state has charged her with failing to do the very job that her title describes.
And it's an issue Contact 13 first exposed nearly a year and a half ago.
"People come there expecting that there's a doctor supervising this particular place, and the doctor was nowhere to be found," said Attorney Easton Harris in February 2012.
Harris represents a group of former Modern Medical employees who are involved in lawsuits with Angie Lorenzo, the physician's assistant who owns and operates Modern Medical.
She's not a doctor, but is allowed to practice under a doctor's supervision.
The state's six-count complaint against Dr. Clayson includes charges of failure to supervise, malpractice, disrepute and records violations.
"She came in and got Angie once a month and they went to lunch and that was it," says Lisa Clarke, who worked as a certified medical assistant at Modern Medical for most of 2011.
Clarke's lawsuit against Lorenzo says Dr. Clayson's only role was collecting paychecks. In exchange, she allowed Modern Medical to operate under her license.
Lisa: I never saw her in the practice doing any kind of doctor work
Darcy: What interaction with patients did she have?
Lisa: She had absolutely none.
Lorenzo is already facing state charges, which are still pending before the board.
They say her actions should have raised red flags for Dr. Clayson.
We spoke to Lorenzo in July, when she told us, "I've always done my best to be a stellar physician's assistant, to provide the highest quality care and to document appropriately."
The state says Lorenzo provided improper patient care, including unnecessary medical testing, injections and procedures.
She's also accused of compromising a patient's safety by prescribing excessive thyroid hormone.
Certified professional coder Beth Petschauer reviewed more than 300 patient records while contracted with Modern Medical.
"She (Lorenzo) would say the patient is vitamin D deficient, and I would say where's the lab documentation to support that? And her comment was, well, everybody's vitamin D deficient."
The state also says Lorenzo did multiple tests and procedures that were inappropriate for the listed diagnosis, care or treatment.
They found an absence of medical decision making in the records, which they call very hard to follow, even contradictory.
"She would say that the patient denied having malaise and fatigue and then use the diagnosis code for malaise and fatigue," says Petschauer.
Perhaps most alarming? The state says on multiple occasions, Lorenzo used and dispensed expired medication on patients.
"She put them on discount and charged the patients half of what they normally would have cost and she sold them expired medications and had them injected into the patients," Clarke says.
State law says as the supervising physician, Dr. Clayson is responsible for Lorenzo's actions and any violations of the medical practice act.
Lorenzo sent Contact 13 a statement saying, "Dr. Clayson has supervised me within the scope of the law, and continues to be a qualified and caring supervising physician. She has followed the law to the highest extent."
We spoke to her about Clayson in July.
Darcy: No one who we've spoken to has ever seen the doctor whose name is on their bills. Why is that?
Angie: Um, I don't know. I mean, Dr. Clayson works here. She's available at the patient's discretion.
Dr. Clayson wouldn't go on camera or answer any of our questions.
She sent us a written statement which says in part "In the last four years, I have reviewed her charts, visited the clinic on a regular basis, held regular medical discussions and been available for consultation during clinic hours... I strongly disagree with the charges several patients, employees and the medical board have brought against Ms. Lorenzo and myself. Our only aim has always been to provide compassionate, humanistic, state of the art medical care."
Dr. Clayson works for the VA Southern Nevada Health System. She's currently on staff at the Veterans' Hospital in North Las Vegas.
State records show in April, she reported a $275,000 settlement from a 2006 case where her "negligence in diagnosis, care and treatment resulted in a patient's death."
The board found her guilty of malpractice in that case back in 2011, but all they did was issue a public reprimand and order her to pay investigation costs.
Lisa Clarke hopes something more significant happens in this case.
"I'm glad the board is finally taking action and paying attention because ultimately, the people that are suffering are the patients. And somebody's got to stop it."
Dr. Clayson now has a chance to answer the charges and request a hearing. Her response is due to the state board in about two weeks.
Below is a statement from Angie Lorenzo. Action News omitted the last paragraph, choosing not to publish the full statement, because it references individual patients who have nothing to do with the NSBME complaint against Dr. Darby Clayson or this story:
"Dr. Clayson has supervised me within the scope of the law, and continues to be a qualified and caring supervising physician. She has followed the law to the highest extent. She is well educated and is one of the smartest physicians that I know and have worked with. These allegations are not new. They are the same that have surfaced for years due to 2 sets of people: 1. Those that are disgruntled employees, and 2. patients that owe money for medical services rendered.
The issues will continue as long as patients retaliate and extort their medical providers by complaining to regulatory agencies for their gain. The company has to be paid for services rendered. The lies and the accusations must cease!
We are working mothers practicing medicine and do our best, the standard of care is always first and foremost. Patients have success, and no patients have ever had a bad outcome. We deny all allegations. We are confident in a positive resolution."
Here is the full statement from Dr. Darby Clayson:
"Throughout my training at MIT, Baylor College of Medicine and countless continuing medical education (CME) courses, 20 years of duty in the Air Force, and almost ten years of service for the VA, I have tried to uphold the highest medical standards at all times, while maintaining a caring, humanistic approach that often is so lacking in our medical system.
4 years ago Ms Lorenzo approached me with her idea to start a clinic that was patient focused, inviting and treats the whole patient, not just lab values and disease states. I agreed to supervise her by regularly reviewing her charts and discussing patient care matters. She already had a history of many years of practice without issues and I knew her to be an intelligent, honest medical practitioner. In the last four years, I have reviewed her charts, visited the clinic on a regular basis, held regular medical discussions and been available for consultation during clinic hours.
I strongly disagree with the charges several patients, employees and the medical board have brought against Ms. Lorenzo and myself, and I repeat, our only aim has always been to provide compassionate, humanistic, state of the art medical care."