The Medical Board of California has disciplined a Fullerton neurologist who kept prescribing medications to a patient who actually needed surgery to remove a skull tumor.
Effective 5 p.m. March 30, Dr. Sung-Un Park's physician and surgeon certificate was revoked by the state board, although that order is stayed pending successful completion of terms of a four-year probationary period.
The 58-year-old male patient began experiencing headaches in July 2010, and his primary care physician, via an MRI, discovered a mass developing on the man's skull.
The patient was sent by his doctor to Park, who received an initial referral document that referenced the mass.
Park told the patient he was suffering from tension headaches and prescribed Imipramine, an "off-label" antidepressant often used to treat chronic pain, according to the medical board. Park added he would consider the MRI results only if the meds did not take care of the problem.
The patient returned to Park because of headaches in November 2010, and this time he was prescribed Topiramate, an anti-epilepsy drug often used for weight loss, and Botox injections were discussed.
A severe frontal headache sent the patient to the Tri-City Regional Medical Center emergency room in Hawaiian Gardens on Jan. 24, 2011, when a CT scan revealed there had been little change to the previously discovered "large sella/suprasellar mass," the medical board reports.
Discharged with a handout on cluster headaches, the patient was instructed to follow up with his neurologist the next morning. Park evaluated the patient on Jan. 26, 2011, and found improvement with the migraines and meningioma, a tumor that often occurs in the brain, causes no symptoms and requires no treatment, although some meningioma tumors can be cancerous and cause death, the board states.
Park reassured the patient about meningioma and suggested Advil for pain, along with continuing Imipramine and Topamax. The patient returned to Park in May, August and September of 2011 because the headaches were not going away, but the neurologist found no structural cause for the pain, explaining it was his impression chronic tension headaches were still the cause. Park would add prescriptions of a sleeping pill, the pain medication Vicoprofen, more Topamax, the anti-depressant Pamelor and a Vicodin/Advil combo during these visits.
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On Feb. 23, 2012, the patient was admitted to Long Beach Memorial Hospital, given a biopsy and taken into surgery for removal of the tumor on his skull.
The medical board found Park's treatment of the patient had been "an extreme departure from the standard of care."
Park can survive the probationary period without losing his license if he: enrolls in a clinical training program; is monitored for a month by a board designee; gives notification of the discipline to all the clinics and hospitals where he has privileges; supervises no physician assistants during his probationary period; obeys all laws; submits quarterly reports to the board; informs the board if he does not practice medicine for long periods of time; makes himself available for board interviews; and bears the costs for all the monitoring of his practice.
Should Park fail to abide by the probationary terms, he will be forced to surrender his medical license, according to the board.