Court Rejects Appeal Of Doctor In Lyme Disease Case
By DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ The state Appellate Court on Monday rejected the appeal of a New Haven pediatrician who claimed state officials were wrong to discipline him in 2007 for the way he treated two children he diagnosed with Lyme disease.
Dr. Charles Ray Jones, who has been a polarizing figure in the treatment of Lyme disease, was reprimanded, fined $10,000 and placed on two years of probation by the Connecticut Medical Examining Board. While patients praise him for treating the disease with long-term courses of antibiotics, many in the medical community says his methods fall outside accepted treatment guidelines and are unproven.
The Medical Examining Board found that Jones violated standards of care when he diagnosed Lyme disease in a boy and his sister, both of whom lived in Nevada, and prescribed antibiotics for them based on phone conversations with their mother, months before he examined them in May 2004. The board also found that Jones was wrong to prescribe antibiotics for nearly a year without repeat exams of the children and to diagnose the tick-borne disease when lab tests were negative and signs and symptoms were “nonspecific.”
Jones and other advocates for Lyme disease patients believe many doctors fail to recognize clinical signs of the disease and refuse to prescribe long courses of antibiotics, leading to needless suffering by thousands of people.
Jones, 82, alleged in his appeal that the board violated his due process rights because one of its members was biased against him and because the board disciplined him based on allegations not made in the official statement of charges. He also said the board used an improper standard of proof. The Appellate Court, the state’s second-highest court, rejected those arguments and affirmed the decision of a Superior Court judge.
Elliot Pollack, Jones’ lawyer, said he was disappointed with the ruling. He declined to comment further because he hadn’t discussed the decision with Jones yet, and he said it was too early to say whether he would appeal to the state Supreme Court. Jones didn’t immediately return a phone message Monday.
Pollack has said the two children are doing well and Jones was essentially being punished for curing his patients. Jones has said he has treated more than 10,000 children with Lyme disease.
State Assistant Attorney General Tanya Feliciano DeMattia, who represented the Medical Examining Board, said the board wasn’t addressing Jones’ theory about Lyme disease treatment.
“The board didn’t treat this as a Lyme disease case,” she said. “What the board found was that he violated several standards of care that would be applicable to any physician.”
The board last year also decided to discipline Jones in a similar case involving his treatment of other children he diagnosed with Lyme disease. Jones’ appeal of that decision is pending in Superior Court. The board has approved fining
Jones another $10,000, putting him on probation for four years and having another doctor monitor his practice.
The influential Infectious Diseases Society of America says in its guidelines for doctors that there is no evidence chronic Lyme disease exists or that long-term antibiotic treatment is effective.
Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash, and infection can spread to joints, the heart and nervous system if left untreated and cause arthritis, numbness and memory problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)