An internal medicine physician has had his medical license placed on probation by the state for 35 months due to “repeated negligent acts” with a patient who died of a methadone overdose.
The Medical Board of California, which put Dr. Hai Hoang Pham’s probation into effect July 13, cited his mistreatment of a patient he had seen initially for a shoulder tear. Pham prescribed the fellow identified only as “C.F.” medications 18 times from June 2007 through October 2010.
The medications prescribed in various doses and at various times included Norco, Xanax, Soma, Ambien, Motrin, Nexium, Tramadol, BuSpar, Dilaudid, Duragesic (which the board notes is a Fentanyl patch not normally used for the patient’s symptoms) and the dietary supplement “Sleep Tight.”
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Medical board investigators found Pham failed to take the patient’s blood pressure and an adequate history, perform a proper physical examination or take into consideration C.F.'s weight, weight fluctuations and hypertension. He was 6-foot-4 and 325 pounds at the first visit, but his weight would drop quickly and balloon up again over the time Pham saw him.
The last time Pham treated C.F. was on Oct. 26, 2010, when the patient got a script for more pain meds. Later, C.F. saw a second doctor who prescribed methadone. He died Nov. 10, 2010, of a methadone overdose in a Western Medical Center emergency room.
With C.F., Pham demonstrated repeated negligent acts and poor record keeping, according to medical board investigators. Conditions of his probation, which Pham and his lawyer Raymond J. McMahon signed off on March 13, include the doctor: obeying all laws; having his practice monitored by a third party; submitting quarterly progress reports to the board; taking prescription, medical education and medical record-keeping courses; and informing hospitals and facilities where he has privileges of his probation status. He is also prohibited from supervising physician assistants.
Failure to live up to the conditions could start license revocation proceedings against Pham.