6 doctors cited for improper care

  • Article by: MAURA LERNER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 19, 2011 - 9:37 AM

 Findings by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice led to the doctors being disciplined for unprofessional conduct.

Six Minnesota doctors were disciplined in May by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice for unprofessional conduct, including overprescribing painkillers, a botched surgery and failing to follow up on a patient's cancer test.

One of the physicians, Dr. Sheftel Cohen of Brooklyn Park, voluntarily surrendered his license to practice.

The board received complaints that Cohen, 73, was prescribing "excess quantities of narcotics," according to board documents, and an investigation concluded that Cohen's medical practice "failed to meet minimal acceptable standards." Cohen denied inappropriate treatment, but agreed to give up his license to close the investigation, the board reported Wednesday.

In other disciplinary cases:

• Dr. James Eelkema, 58, of Burnsville was reprimanded for beginning a sexual relationship with a patient under treatment for pain, depression and chemical dependency.

• Dr. David Gilbertson, 71, of St. Paul was disciplined for failing to follow up with a patient whose test results suggested he might have prostate cancer. The patient had elevated scores in 2002 and 2003, but there was no evidence Gilbertson discussed the abnormal results with him. In 2007, another doctor diagnosed the patient's metastic prostate cancer. Gilbertson told the board that his staff had sent postcards asking the patient to schedule a follow-up visits, but that the patient didn't follow through. He was ordered to complete courses in prostate screening and medical records.

• Dr. Todd Leonard, 42, of Rogers, Minn., was reprimanded and fined $11,743 for improperly prescribing pain medications. The board said Leonard, a family physician, repeatedly prescribed medications without documenting the diagnosis or reasons for the treatment.

• Dr. Roberto Pagarigan, 79, of Baxter, Minn., was reprimanded and fined $2,387 for inappropriately prescribing psychiatric drugs, sometimes multiple drugs at one time, and causing one patient to be hospitalized with delirium. The board found that Pagarigan routinely prescribed multiple psychiatric drugs without a documented reason, including for children. He denied delivering improper care, but said his documentation was faulty.

• Dr. John Sander, 79, of Red Wing, was reprimanded after an investigation found he improperly performed carpal tunnel surgery on a patient in 2004 and accidentally severed a digital nerve. The patient required surgery to repair the damage, the board found. At the time, Sander was filling in for a colleague, even though he had retired from surgery.

Maura Lerner • 612-673-7384

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