Doctors Behaving Badly: Idaho board bars doctor from tummy tucks, facelifts and other plastic surgery

Published on
June 16, 2010

Take away an artist's paints. She may just use her fingers.

Take away a chef's knives. He may opt to smash, grate or whip the ingredients instead.

But what if you are a doctor and the medical board takes away your ability to perform facelifts, liposuction, breast augmentation and tummy tucks?

If you are Dr. Carl Freeman Wurster in Boise, you beg.

The Board of Medicine in Idaho banned Wurster in 2007 from performing 46 different procedures, including everything that a flabby, knobby, gnarly body might want.

He successfully completed a state evaluation program and petitioned the board to lift the restrictions on his license. The board bent, just a little, and in January 2008 allowed him to perform four specific procedures: "excision of benign face lesions, excision of malignant face lesions, facial simple laceration repair and facial intermediate laceration repair."

The rest of the restrictions will remain in place until at least 2012. You can find this out by using Idaho's elegant and intuitive state licensee website. Antidote only wishes there was more information to be had there.

The incidents that led to Wurster's license restrictions remain a mystery. The Board of Medicine says only that it based its decision on "complaints from various and the Board's own investigation regarding Respondent's training and ability to perform cosmetic or plastic surgery procedures and other issues."

Antidote has reviewed medical board decisions from around the country and never seen a list of banned procedures this long. The fact that there were "other issues" beyond an inability to safely perform these standard plastic surgery procedures leaves the mind reeling with possibilities. One sticking point may be that Wurster is not a certified plastic surgeon. He's an ear, nose and throat specialist, also known as an otolaryngologist. These doctors do perform cosmetic procedures from the neck up, but it appears that Wurster was working on the lucrative areas below the head, too.

Final question: Why don't medical boards pickup the phone and talk to each other? Wurster is licensed in both Idaho and Utah. Wurster has told the Utah Board of Physicians that he is not able to practice there because he is recovering from a back surgery. As a result, in an odd Catch-22, Utah won't put him on probation until he starts practicing. And when will that be? In March 2009, the board conducted a "telephonic monitoring" call with Wurster and asked him if Idaho had a specific time frame for when Wurster was supposed to go back to work. "Dr. Wurster responded that Idaho does not have a time frame. He stated Idaho does not contact him regarding his status or to meet with the Board." The Utah board took him at his word and wrote, "The Board determined Dr. Wurster is in compliance as much as he can be at this time but that his time clock has not started."

This seems like a question better directed to Idaho's board, but, as Antidote has seen repeatedly, boards don't share information.