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Thirty-somethings, beware of how Utah handles shrinks who blur patient boundaries

Thirty-somethings, beware of how Utah handles shrinks who blur patient boundaries

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Medical boards are racing to see who can set the loosest limits on doctors disciplined for inappropriate conduct with female patients.

The Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners set the age limit at 60 for women there. If you are under 60, the disciplined doctor needs to have a chaperone in the room. Over 60, it's a free-for-all. But the Utah Medical Board did Louisiana a few decades better.

In disciplining Dr. Nathan Currier, a Salt Lake City psychiatrist, it said that Currier could see women 50 and older without a chaperone.

Then Utah decided to put its age limit lowering into overdrive. In March 2010, the board made a new order, requiring a chaperone for any female patient age 18 to 34 in March 2010. Teen-age girls? Safe.Women 35 and older? Safe.

How did Currier respond? According to the board's minutes from June 2010, Currier just changed his game plan.

He stated it is not time or cost-effective to schedule a patient and then have to schedule a chaperone so he treats females who are 35 and older.

Then in September 2010, the board had a change of heart and said, you know what, let's let Currier practice without any restrictions.

The reason why the Utah board ever required a chaperone in the first place is left to the imagination, because its documents are scant on details on that point. Currier's other misdeeds are well-documented.

For example, in February 2004, Currier was disciplined for "prescribing controlled substances without first establishing a doctor-patient relationship." Serving out his probation in that case didn't stop him, though, from prescribing so much Methadone that a patient overdosed and died. In May 2004, Utah took away his license to prescribe and administer controlled substances.

Two months later, Currier apparently continued to prescribe drugs and another patient was found dead from an overdose. Utah placed Currier on probation for three years and told him to take a course in how to prescribe drugs. Currier took the course and was given back his license to prescribe drugs.

Two years later, in June 2006, the board found that Currier had "failed to comply with probationary conditions" and revoked his license.

Currier tried to get it back but the board denied his requests. So he sold cars for a while but was laid off. Then he worked in a grocery store. And then he ended up getting hired by BiWater Surgical Services, a spinal implant company. The company's owner, Radd Berrett, went with him to a hearing before the board to say that Currier would be playing a pivotal role in monitoring spine and cranial surgeries remotely. Even the board was surprised that a company would want to hire a doctor who had lost his license to work in a medical capacity.

"Dr. James Pingree asked if Mr. Berrett had a reason for interviewing probationers," the board wrote in its meeting minutes from August 2009. "Mr. Berrett responded he has a personal reason."

The board voted to allow him to return to practicing medicine. And so Currier's reputation with the board was on the road to recovery.

Final question: What does the board tell the public about Currier's past? Next to nothing.There is nothing in Currier's physician profile about inappropriate conduct, about the overdose, about the age limits. Nothing. The only indication a patient would have that Currier has had a troubled history is this one line. "Disciplinary Actions: Yes." Where do you go to find out more? It's anyone's guess. Clicking around on the site, you may discover this: "If you discover that disciplinary action has been taken against a license, you may obtain a copy of the public disciplinary records, including all public petitions, orders, stipulations, etc. There is a $12.00 fee for each disciplinary file that is payable at the time of the request. We accept checks written to DOPL or Visa MasterCard or American Express."

It seems counter to a public protection mission to force patients to pay to see public files about doctors, especially in cases where patients have overdosed and doctors have been deemed unsafe without a chaperone.

Jenn Harris contributed to this report.

View this doctor on the Doctors Behaving Badly Google map.

Comments

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Dr. Currier prescribes 90mg of dexedrine a day for our son. Has abused methadone and is a drug addict.
Doctors at University Hospital say Dr. Currier is keeping him a drug meth addict. Our son refuses to go to a different Doctor and we are concerned because we are tired of the whole scene (our son is 35). Please refer us to some help if possible. Thank You!

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I've been a patient of Curriers for years and without him and his patience I couldn't lead a almost normal- crazy life. The meds have always been closely monitored and checked and therapy visits are always a must. He is the best doctor I have ever had and he stands up for mental illness and he stands up for what's right and for those of us that are constantly trying to do right but often stumble and fail. I wouldn't go to another doctor either...why? Because he is the very best. I'm just saying ....

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