Doctors Behaving Badly: Paranoia doesn't strike deep enough for North Carolina medical board

Published on
October 15, 2010

It must have been a slow day at the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

In February 1997, the bureau received a call from Dr. Mett Bagley Ausley, Jr., who said he wanted to meet some agents at Wilson's grocery store in Whiteville, N.C. Instead of jotting down a few notes and telling Ausley he would have to wait in line, the bureau sent two agents to meet with him. They found the 40-year-old pathologist, according to the Medical Board of North Carolina, "standing on the concrete divider in the middle of the four lane road in front of the store."

When the agents persuaded him to come over to their car, Ausley told the agents that people were "out to get him" and went back to the concrete divider.

Perhaps not satisfied with the state bureau's work on his case, Ausley then contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Wilmington, North Carolina. He said he wanted to report a "major health fraud." The FBI, apparently as busy as the state bureau, sent an agent to meet with Ausley the same day, and Ausley, according to the medical board, "told the Special Agent nonsensical stories about persons in cars following Dr. Ausley." But there was more than nonsense:

Dr. Ausley also told the Special agent that a nurse at his hospital was listening in on Dr. Ausley's telephone calls and was watching him. Dr. Ausley mentioned that he had purchased a handgun out of concern for his safety over these incidents.

Two days after this meeting, the North Carolina Medical Board suspended Ausley's license to practice medicine, citing "concern about his mental health."

Ausley started seeing a psychiatrist, and, because the North Carolina board thought he had made good progress, the board gave him his license back less than five months later.

The board apparently did not check Ausley's criminal record at the time. Had it done so, it would have found that Ausley had pleaded guilty in 1981 "to careless and reckless driving that arose out of a charge of DWI." This would not be his last alcohol-related incident. Between then and 2010, he was stopped or charged with DWIs on two other occasions. In June 2010, he submitted himself to inpatient treatment for alcohol dependence.

As with the mental health concerns before, though, the board decided that Ausley had made a good faith effort to seek treatment and make progress. The board said "the facts and circumstances of this case do not warrant or require a restriction or limitation to be placed on Dr. Ausley's license to practice medicine."

The board makes all of this information easy and intuitive to find. It also provides records going back to 1997, where many board have 10- or even five-year cutoffs for disciplinary records.

Final question: What can you find out about Ausley if you check other medical boards? In Minnesota, where Ausley is also licensed, the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice has taken no action against him.

Jenn Harris contributed to this report.

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