Doctors Behaving Badly: Dr. Gregory Burnham Camp

Published on
July 6, 2009

Think about what it takes to obtain a medical license. Some states' licensing boards will rubber stamp a license from another state but others, like California's, require a lot of hoops.

Then consider the case of Dr. Gregory Burnham Camp, who had licenses in California (No. 34329), Ohio (35-028433), North Carolina (36156) and Massachusetts. Why so many states?

A native of Akron, the psychiatrist bounced around from state to state until, in 1993, he landed what sounds like a plum job: medical director for the Southeastern Center for Mental Health in Wilmington, North Carolina, a place that specializes in drug and alcohol treatment.

Perhaps coincidentally, he started to drink more alcohol, according to the Medical Board of Ohio. By June 1999, he sought care at a different treatment center and, after a month-long inpatient program, was discharged.

Like many alcoholics, he relapsed. He entered a treatment program in December 2000 but, according to the medical board, left one day later "against medical advice."

His drinking started to cause him to miss work. He lost his job as director of the center but stayed on as a psychiatrist and eventually was fired in 2002. After that, he had nothing to lose. He drank as much as fifth of rum a day, according to the medical board. He was in and out of hospitals for depression over the next few years. He also told the medical board that he "suffers from general anxiety and also suffers panic attacks."

Are these qualities one seeks in a psychiatrist?

In October 2007, Ohio suspended his license while he sought treatment. California did the same in May 2008 and finally revoked his license in April 2009.

The big question here is: Why was Camp allowed to continue to obtain and renew licenses in all of these states despite this long history of alcohol abuse and mental disorders?

Ohio offers a clue. The board there, in its retelling of Camp's history, blames Camp for saying "no" when asked on his license renewal forms in 2003 and 2005 whether he had an alcohol problem. Ever heard of denial? The board also notes, "Dr. Camp states that formerly he also was licensed to practice medicine and surgery in the states of Massachusetts and North Carolina, but that license is no longer active."

Which license? And could a board staffer have called the boards in those states to find out the circumstances? Or, better yet, call around to some of the places Camp worked to find out if he'd ever been found sneaking a snort in between appointments?

When writing about the new doctor in town, do your own checks on where he has worked in the past. Chances are, you'll know more about the doctor than the medical board that just gave him his license.