Disciplinary Actions against
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
In 2012, the Texas Medical Board charged Gerald Ray Harris, D.O., with unprofessional conduct in his relationship with a patient that he treated from August 2002 through January 2010. The complaint alleged:
- Harris treated the woman with chelation therapy without obtaining no laboratory tests to confirm a supposed heavy metal toxicity diagnosis.
- In 2006, Harris terminated the doctor patient relationship and began a romantic relationship. However, he continued to see the woman in his office, prescribe medications, and continued "ineffective and medically unacceptable treatments," such as coffee enemas.
The case was settled with a mediated agreed order (shown below) under which Harris was (a) reprimanded, (2) ordered to pay a $5,000 administrative penalty, (c) required to pass a medical jurisprudence exam, and (d) complete courses in professional boundaries, heavy metal toxicity treatment, fibromyalgia treatment, chronic fatigue treatment, and ethics. In June 2013, the California Osteopathic Medical Board filed an accusation which noted that that (a) Harris's California license was in delinquent status, having expired in May 2013, and (b) the trouble he had in Texas was grounds for further discipline in California.
LICENSE NO. G-9589
IN THE MATTER OF THE
GERALD A. HARRIS, D.O.
TEXAS MEDICAL BOARD
MEDIATED AGREED ORDER
On the 31 day of August , 2012, came on to be heard before the Texas Medical Board (the "Board"), duly in session, the matter of the license of Gerald Ray Harris, D.O. ("Respondent").
On November 10, 2011, Respondent appeared in person, with counsel, Jeffrey C. Grass, at an Informal Show Compliance Proceeding and Settlement Conference in response to a letter of invitation from the staff of the Board. The Board's representatives were Roberta Kalafut, D.O., a member of a District Review Committee, and Timothy Webb, J.D., a member of the Board. Christopher M. Palazola represented Board staff.
A formal complaint was subsequently filed at the State Office of Administrative Hearings ("SOAH"). Prior to going to a Final Hearing at SOAH, the matter was referred to SOAH mediation. As a result of the mediation, this Order was agreed upon. Melinda McMichael, M.D. represented the Board at the Mediated Settlement Conference. Jeffrey C. Grass represented Respondent. Christopher M. Palazola and Claudia Kirk represented Board staff.
Board staff charged that Respondent engaged in an inappropriate financial and sexual relationship with one patient. It was also alleged that Respondent relied on improper diagnostic tests to support the alternative medical treatment provided to the patient.
Respondent has not previously been the subject of disciplinary action by the Board.
The Board finds the following:
1. General Findings:
- Respondent received all notice required by law. All jurisdictional requirements have been satisfied. Respondent waives any defect in notice and any further right to notice or hearing under the Medical Practice Act, Title 3, Subtitle B, Texas Occupations Code (the "Act") or the Rules of the Board.
- Respondent currently holds Texas Medical License No. H-9519. Respondent was originally issued this license to practice medicine in Texas on August 23, 1991. Respondent is also licensed to practice in California.
- Respondent is primarily engaged in the practice of internal medicine, specializing in sclerotherapy. Respondent is not board certified.
- Respondent is 50 years of age.
2. Specific Panel Findings:
- In addition to other treatment modalities, Respondent treated the Patient who had previously been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and heavy metal toxicity, with chelation therapy. Respondent claims that the treatment was at the patient's request. There were no laboratory tests to confirm the heavy metal toxicity diagnosis.
- On August 28, 2006, Respondent terminated the doctor patient relationship.
- Respondent and the Patient then began a romantic relationship.
- In spite of terminating the relationship, on August 28, 2006, Respondent continued to see the Patient in his office, prescribe medications and make other treatment recommendations for the patient.
3. Mitigating Factors: Respondent has cooperated in the investigation of the allegations related to this Agreed Order. Respondent's cooperation, through consent to this Agreed Order, pursuant to the provisions of Section 164.002 the Act, will save money and resources for the State of Texas. To avoid further investigation, hearings, and the expense and inconvenience of litigation, Respondent agrees to the entry of this Agreed Order and to comply with its terms and conditions.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Based on the above Findings, the Board concludes that:
1. The Board has jurisdiction over the subject matter and Respondent pursuant to the Act.
2. Section 164.051(a)(6) of the Act authorizes the Board to take disciplinary action against Respondent based on Respondent's failure to practice medicine in an acceptable professional manner consistent with public health and welfare, as further defined by Board Rule(s):190.8(1)(C), failure to use proper diligence in one's professional practice; 190.8(l)(D), failure to safeguard against potential complications; and 190.8(1)(H), failure to disclose reasonable alternative treatments to a proposed procedure or treatment.
3. Section 164.051(a)(1) of the Act authorizes the Board to take disciplinary action against Respondent based on Respondent's commission of an act prohibited under Section 164.052 of the Act.
4. Section 164.052(a)(5) of the Act authorizes the Board to take disciplinary action against Respondent based upon Respondent's unprofessional or dishonorable conduct that is likely to deceive or defraud the public or injure the public, as further defined by Board Rule 190.8(2)(E), engaging in sexual contact with a patient; 190.8(2)(F), engaging in sexually inappropriate behavior or comments directed toward a patient; 190.8(2)(G), becoming financially or personally involved with a patient in an inappropriate manner; and 190.8(2)(M), inappropriate prescription of dangerous drugs or controlled substances to oneself, family members or others in which there is a close, personal relationship.
5. Section 164.053(a)(5) of the Act authorizes the Board to take disciplinary action against Respondent based on Respondent prescribing or administering a drug or treatment that is nontherapeutic in nature or nontherapeutic in the manner the drug or treatment is administered or prescribed.
6. Section 164.001 of the Act authorizes the Board to impose a range of disciplinary actions against a person for violation of the Act or a Board rule.
7. Section 164.002(a) of the Act authorizes the Board to resolve and make a disposition of this matter through an Agreed Order.
8. Section 164.002(d) of the Act provides that this Agreed Order is a settlement agreement under the Texas Rules of Evidence for purposes of civil litigation.
Based on the above Findings and Conclusions of Law, the Board ORDERS that Respondent shall be subject to the following terms and conditions:
1. This Agreed Order shall constitute a PUBLIC REPRIMAND of Respondent, and Respondent is hereby reprimanded.
2. Within one year following the date of the entry of this Order, Respondent shall take and pass with a score of 75 or above the Medical Jurisprudence Examination ("JP Exam") given by the Texas Medical Board. Respondent is allowed three attempts to successfully pass this examination.
Respondent's failure to take and pass the JP Exam within three attempts within one year following the date of the entry of this Order shall constitute a violation of this Agreed Order. After a committee of the Board or a panel of Board representatives (Board Representatives), has considered the information related to Respondent's violation of this provision and has determined that Respondent has not fulfilled the requirements of this provision, Respondent's medical license shall be IMMEDIATELY SUSPENDED pursuant to correspondence to Respondent from the Executive Director or Secretary-Treasurer of the Board indicating that Board Representatives have considered the information related to Respondent's violation of this provision and have determined that Respondent has not fulfilled the requirements of this provision. Although Respondent shall be invited to provide information or testimony to the Board Representatives, Respondent specifically waives any administrative due process under the Medical Practice Act, or the Administrative Procedure Act, for the Board Representatives to consider this information. THIS SUSPENSION SHALL BE EFFECTIVE WITHOUT THE NEED FOR A HEARING AT THE STATE OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS OR OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE DUE PROCESS UNDER THE MEDICAL PRACTICE ACT OR THE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE ACT, AND RESPONDENT SPECIFICALLY WAIVES ANY SUCH HEARING OR DUE PROCESS AND ALL RIGHTS OF APPEAL. Respondent shall be notified of any suspension by certified mail, return receipt requested to Respondent's last known address on file with the Board. If Respondent's license is suspended on such a basis, the suspension shall remain in effect until such time as Respondent takes and passes the JP Exam and subsequently appears before the Board in person and provides sufficient evidence which, in the discretion of the Board, is adequate to show that Respondent possesses the skills and knowledge to safely practice in Texas and is otherwise physically and mentally competent to resume the practice in this state.
3. Within one year from the date of the entry of this Order, Respondent shall enroll in and successfully complete the professional boundaries course offered by Vanderbilt University or an equivalent course approved in advance by the Executive Director. To obtain approval for a course other than the Vanderbilt course, Respondent shall submit in writing to the Compliance Division of the Board information on the course that includes description of the course content, faculty, course location, and dates of instruction. Respondent shall submit documentation of attendance and successful completion of this requirement to the Compliance Division of the Board on or before the expiration of the time limit set forth for completion of the course.
4. Within one year following the entry of this Order, Respondent shall enroll in and successfully complete, each year, at least 30 hours of continuing medical education (CME) approved for Category I credits by the American Medical Association or the American Osteopathic Association in the topics of: heavy metal toxicity treatment, for a minimum of four (4) hours; treatment of fibromyalgia, for a minimum of eight (8) hours; treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome, for a minimum of eight (8) hours; and medical ethics, for a minimum of 10 hours. All courses must be approved in writing in advance by the Executive Director or designee of the Board. To obtain approval for the course, Respondent shall submit in writing to the Compliance Division of the Board information on the course, to include at least a reasonably detailed description of the course content and faculty, as well as the course location and dates of instruction. Respondent shall submit documentation of attendance and successful completion of this requirement to the Compliance Division of the Board on or before the expiration of the time limit set forth for completion of the course. The CME requirements set forth in this paragraph shall be in addition to all other CME required for licensure maintenance.
5. Respondent shall pay an administrative penalty in the amount of $5000 within 90 days of the date of the entry of this Order. The administrative penalty shall be paid in a single payment by cashier's check or money order payable to the Texas Medical Board and shall be submitted to the Board for routing so as to be remitted to the Comptroller of Texas for deposit in the general revenue fund. Respondent's failure to pay the administrative penalty as ordered shall constitute grounds for further disciplinary action by the Board, and may result in a referral by the Executive Director of the Board for collection by the Office of the Attorney General.
6. Respondent shall comply with all the provisions of the Act and other statutes regulating the Respondent's practice.
7. Respondent shall fully cooperate with the Board and the Board staff, including Board attorneys, investigators, compliance officers, consultants, and other employees or agents of the Board in any way involved in investigation, review, or monitoring associated with Respondent's compliance with this Order. Failure to fully cooperate shall constitute a violation of this order and a basis for disciplinary action against Respondent pursuant to the Act.
8. Respondent shall inform the Board in writing of any change of Respondent's office or mailing address within 10 days of the address change. This information shall be submitted to the Registration Department and the Compliance Department of the Board. Failure to provide such information in a timely manner shall constitute a basis for disciplinary action by the Board against Respondent pursuant to the Act. Respondent agrees that 10 days notice of a Probationer Show Compliance Proceeding to address any allegation of non-compliance of this Agreed Order is adequate and reasonable notice prior to the initiation of formal disciplinary action. Respondent waives the 30-day notice requirement provided by §164.003(b)(2) of the Medical Practice Act and agrees to 10 days notice, as provided in 22 Texas Administrative Code §187.44(4).
9. Any violation of the terms, conditions, or requirements of this Order by Respondent shall constitute unprofessional conduct likely to deceive or defraud the public, or to injure the public, and shall constitute a basis for disciplinary action by the Board against Respondent pursuant to the Act.
10. Respondent shall be permitted to supervise and delegate prescriptive authority to physician assistants and advanced practice nurses and to supervise surgical assistants.
11. This Order shall automatically terminate upon the successful completion of the requirements in Ordering Paragraph Nos. 2, 3,4, and 5.
RESPONDENT WAIVES ANY FURTHER HEARINGS OR APPEALS TO THE BOARD OR TO ANY COURT IN REGARD TO ALL TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THIS AGREED ORDER. RESPONDENT AGREES THAT THIS IS A FINAL ORDER.
THIS ORDER IS A PUBLIC RECORD.
I, GERALD RAY HARRIS, D.O., HAVE READ AND UNDERSTAND THE FOREGOING AGREED ORDER. I UNDERSTAND THAT BY SIGNING, I WAIVE CERTAIN RIGHTS. I SIGN IT VOLUNTARILY. I UNDERSTAND THIS AGREED ORDER CONTAINS THE ENTIRE AGREEMENT AND THERE IS NO OTHER AGREEMENT OF ANY KIND, VERBAL, WRITTEN OR OTHERWISE.
DATED: 6/12, 2012.
GERALD RAY HARRIS, D.O.
SIGNED AND ENTERED by the presiding officer of the Texas Medical Board on this 3! day of August, 2012.
Irvin E. Zeitler, Jr., D.O., President
Texas Medical Board
This page was posted on September 16, 2013.