Bruce Frome, M.D., Placed on Six Years' Probation

Stephen Barrett, M.D.


In 2001, Bruce Frome, M.D., who practices in Beverly Hills, California, settled charges that he had negligently and incompetently treated three patients. The settlement agreement (shown below) required him to pay $14,000 for costs and serve on probation for six years, during which he was required to participate in remedial education and have his practice monitored by another physician. He was also prohibited from administering nerve blocks or any invasive pain-control devices and, with minor exception, barred from using experimental or investigational therapies. One of the charges involved use of an unapproved diagnostic device that was not identified in the complaint.


BILL LOCKYER,
Attorney General of the State of California
JOSEPH P. FURMAN, State Bar No. 130654
Deputy Attorney General
California Department of Justice
Deputy Attorney General California Department of Justice
300 South Spring Street, Suite 1702
Los Angeles, California 90013
Telephone: (213) 897-2531
Facsimile: (213) 897-1071

Attorneys for Complainant

BEFORE THE
DIVISION OF MEDICAL QUALITY
MEDICAL BOARD OF CALIFORNIA
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS
STATE OF CALIFORNIA

In the Matter of the Second Amended
Accusation Against:

BRUCE M. FROME, M.D.
Post Office Box 15157
Beverly Hills, CA 90209

Physician and Surgeon's Certificate No. G 8667,

Respondent


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Medical Board Case No. 17-95-48447
OAH Case No. L-2000110150

STIPULATED SETTLEMENT AND
DISCIPLINARY ORDER

 

IT IS HEREBY STIPULATED AND AGREED, by and between the parties to above-entitled proceedings, that the following matters are true:

PARTIES

1. Ron Joseph ("complainant") is the Executive Director of the Medical Board of California ("Board"). He brought this action solely in his official capacity and is represented in this matter by Bill Lockyer, Attorney General of the State of California, by Joseph P. Furman, Deputy Attorney General.

2. Bruce M. Frome, M.D. ("respondent") is represented in this matter by Frank Albino, Esq., of Parker, Milliken, Clark, O'Hara & Samuelian, a Professional Corporation, 333 South Hope Street, 27th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90071-1488.

JURISDICTION

3. On or about July 8, 1963, the Board issued Physician and Surgeon's Certificate No. G 8667 to respondent. Physician and Surgeon's Certificate No. G 8667 was in full force and effect at all times relevant to the charges in the Second Amended Accusation. Unless renewed, the certificate will expire on August 31, 2002.

4. Second Amended Accusation No. 17-95-48447 was filed before the Board's Division of Medical Quality ("Division") and is currently pending against respondent. The Second Amended Accusation, together with all other statutorily required documents, was duly served on respondent on August 1, 2000, and respondent timely filed his Notice of Defense contesting the Second Amended Accusation. A copy of Second Amended Accusation No. 17-95-48447 is attached as Exhibit A and incorporated herein by reference.

ADVISEMENT AND WAIVERS

5. Respondent has carefully read and thoroughly discussed with his counsel the nature of the charges and allegations in the Second Amended Accusation and the effects of this Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order.

6. Respondent is fully aware of his legal rights in this matter, including the right to a hearing on the charges and allegations in the Second Amended Accusation, the right to be represented by counsel at his own expense, the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses against him, the right to present evidence and to testify on his own behalf, the right to the issuance of subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents, the right to reconsideration and court review of an adverse decision, and all other rights accorded by the California Administrative Procedure Act and other applicable laws.

7. Respondent, with the advice of counsel, freely, voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waives and gives up each and every right set forth above.

CULPABILITY

8. Respondent understands and agrees that the charges and allegations in the Second Amended Accusation, if proven at a hearing, constitute cause for imposing discipline on his Physician and Surgeon's Certificate.

9. Respondent admits that complainant can present a prima facie case of the charges and allegations in Second Amended Accusation No. 17-95-48447. For the purpose of resolving this matter without the expense and uncertainty of further proceedings, respondent declines to require complainant to put on its case, and respondent hereby waives his right to present a defense to the charges in Second Amended Accusation No. 17-95-48447.

10. Respondent agrees that his Physician and Surgeon's Certificate is thus subject to discipline, and respondent agrees to be bound by the Division's imposition of discipline as set forth in the Order below.

CONTINGENCY

11. This Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order ("stipulation") shall be subject to the approval of the Division. Respondent understands and agrees that Board staff and counsel for complainant may communicate directly with the Division regarding this stipulation, without notice to or participation by respondent or his counsel. If the Division fails to adopt this stipulation as its Order, this Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order (except for this paragraph) shall be of no force or effect, it shall be inadmissible in any legal action between the parties, and the Division shall not be disqualified from further action by having considered this matter.

12. The parties agree that facsimile copies of this Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order, including facsimile signatures, shall have the same force and effect as the original Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order and original signatures.

13. In consideration of the foregoing admissions and stipulations, the parties agree that the Division shall, without further notice or formal proceeding, issue and enter the following Disciplinary Order:

DISCIPLINARY ORDER

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Physician and Surgeon's Certificate No. G 8667 issued to respondent is revoked. However, the revocation is stayed and respondent is placed on probation for six (6) years on the following terms and conditions.

1. Within fifteen (15) days of the effective date of this decision, respondent shall provide the Division, or its designee, proof of service that respondent has served a true copy of this stipulation and decision on the Chief of Staff or the Chief Executive Officer at every hospital where privileges or membership are extended to respondent or at any other facility where respondent engages in the practice of medicine and on the Chief Executive Officer at every insurance carrier where malpractice insurance coverage is extended to respondent.

2. MONITORING Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this decision, respondent shall submit to the Division or its designee for its prior approval a plan of practice in which respondent's practice shall be monitored by another physician in respondent's field of practice, who shall provide periodic reports to the Division or its designee. In addition to monitoring all aspects of respondent's practice of medicine, the monitor shall oversee compliance with the practice restrictions set forth below under the condition entitled, "Prohibited Practice. "

If the practice monitor resigns or is no longer available, respondent shall, within fifteen (15) days, move to have a new monitor appointed, through nomination by respondent and approval by the Division or its designee.

3. PROHIBITED PRACTICE During probation, respondent's practice shall be restricted to prohibit him from administering nerve blocks or spinal implantation of dorsal column stimulators, pain-control medication catheters, or any other form of invasive or implanted pain control devices. In addition, during probation, respondent's practice shall be restricted to prohibit the use on patients of any experimental or investigational therapies, with the limited exception of allowing the application of topical therapies that are administered pursuant to, and in compliance with, institutional review board or United States Food and Drug Administration guidelines and that are administered in conjunction with drug or pharmaceutical company or university protocols and procedures. At the earliest opportunity, respondent shall inform applicable patients, if any, that respondent is prohibited from performing any treatment or procedure involving the administration of nerve blocks or spinal implantation of dorsal column stimulators, pain-control medication catheters, or any other form of invasive or implanted pain control devices or any other prohibited experimental or investigational therapies.

4. CONTROLLED DRUGS - MAINTAIN RECORD Respondent shall maintain a record of all controlled substances and all other drugs or medicinal compounds prescribed, dispensed, or administered by respondent during probation, showing all the following: 1) the name and address of the patient, 2) the date, 3) the character and quantity of controlled substances, drugs, or medicinal compounds involved, and 4) the indications and diagnoses for which the controlled substance, drug, or medicinal compound was furnished.

Respondent shall keep these records in a separate file or ledger, in chronological order, and shall make them available for inspection and copying by the practice monitor and by the Division or its designee, upon request.

5. PHYSICIAN ASSESSMENT AND CLINICAL EDUCATION "PACE" PROGRAM Within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this decision, respondent, at his expense, shall enroll in the Physician Assessment and Clinical Education Program ("PACE Program") at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and shall undergo assessment, clinical training; and· examination. First, respondent shall undergo the comprehensive assessment program including the measurement of medical skills and knowledge, the appraisal of physical health, and psychological testing. After assessment, the PACE Program Evaluation Committee will review all results and make a recommendation to the Division or its designee, respondent, and other authorized personnel as to what clinical training is required, including scope and length, treatment of any medical or psychological condition, and any other factors affecting respondent's practice of medicine. Respondent shall undertake whatever clinical training and treatment of any medical or psychological condition as may be recommended by the PACE Program.

At the completion of the PACE Program, respondent shall submit to an examination on its contents and substance. The examination shall be designed and administered by the PACE faculty. Respondent shall not be deemed to have successfully completed the PACE Program unless he passes the examination. Respondent agrees that the determination of the PACE Program faculty as to whether or not he has passed the examination and/or successfully completed the PACE Program shall be binding and not subject to legal challenge in any forum.

Respondent shall complete the PACE Program within six (6) months of his initial enrollment unless the Division or its designee agrees in writing to a later time for completion.

If respondent successfully completes the PACE Program, including the examination referenced above, he agrees to cause the PACE Program representatives to forward a Certification of Successful Completion of the program to the Division or its designee.

If respondent fails to successfully complete the PACE Program within the time limits outlined above, he shall be suspended from the practice of medicine unless and until he successfully completes the PACE Program. Failure to participate in, and successfully complete, all phases of the PACE Program, as outlined above, prior to the final six (6) months of respondent's scheduled probationary term, shall constitute a violation of probation.

6. PRESCRIBING PRACTICES COURSE Within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this decision, respondent shall, at his own expense, enroll in a course in the subject of Prescribing Practices, approved in advance by the Division or its designee, and shall successfully complete the course during the first year of probation. Respondent's enrollment in, and successful completion of, a Prescribing Practices course offered by the PACE Program at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, will satisfy this condition.

7. MEDICAL RECORD KEEPING COURSE Within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this decision, respondent shall, at his own expense, enroll in a course in the subject of Medical Record Keeping, approved in advance by the Division or its designee, and shall successfully complete the course during the first year of probation. Respondent's enrollment in, and successful completion of, a Medical Record Keeping course offered by the PACE Program at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, will satisfy this condition.

8. EDUCATION COURSES Within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this decision, and on an annual basis thereafter, respondent shall submit to the Division or its designee for its prior approval an educational program or course in the field of Pain Management to be approved by the Division or its designee. The courses shall be aimed at correcting any areas of deficient practice or knowledge and shall not be less than sixteen (16) hours per year, for each year of probation. This program shall be in addition to the Continuing Medical Education (CME) requirements for re-licensure. Following the completion of each course, the Division or its designee may administer an examination to test respondent's knowledge of the course. Respondent shall provide proof of attendance for the continuing medical education required by this condition, which, as noted, is in addition to the customary CME requirements for re-licensure.

9. OBEY ALL LAWS Respondent shall obey all federal, state, and local laws, and all rules governing the practice of medicine in California, and he shall remain in full compliance with any court ordered criminal probation, payments, and other orders.

10. QUARTERLY REPORTS Respondent shall submit quarterly declarations under penalty of perjury on forms provided by the Division, stating whether there has been compliance with all the conditions of probation.

11. PROBATION SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM COMPLIANCE Respondent shall comply with the Division's probation surveillance program. Respondent shall, at all times, keep the Division informed of his business and residence addresses which shall both serve as addresses of record. Changes of such addresses shall be immediately communicated in writing to the Division. Under no circumstances shall a post office box serve as an address of record, except as allowed by Business and Professions Code section 2021 (b).

Respondent shall, at all times, maintain a current and renewed physician's and surgeon's license.

Respondent shall also immediately inform the Division, in writing, of any travel to any areas outside the jurisdiction of California which lasts, or is contemplated to last, more than thirty (30) days.

12. INTERVIEW WITH THE DIVISION, ITS DESIGNEE OR ITS DESIGNATED PHYSICIAN(S) Respondent shall appear in person for interviews with the Division, its designee or its designated physician(s), upon request at various intervals and with reasonable notice.

13. TOLLING FOR OUT-OF-STATE PRACTICE, RESIDENCE OR IN-STATE NON-PRACTICE In the event respondent should leave California to reside or to practice outside the State or for any reason should respondent stop practicing medicine in California, respondent shall notify the Division or its designee in writing within ten (10) days of the dates of departure and return or the dates of non-practice within California. Non-practice is defined as any period of time exceeding thirty (30) days in which respondent is not engaging in any activities defined in Sections 2051 and 2052 of the Business and Professions Code. All time spent in an intensive training program approved by the Division or its designee shall be considered as time spent in the practice of medicine. A Board-ordered suspension of practice shall not be considered as a period of non-practice. Periods of temporary or permanent residence or practice outside California or of non-practice within California, as defined in this condition, will not apply to the reduction of the probationary order.

14. COMPLETION OF PROBATION Upon successful completion of probation, respondent's certificate shall be fully restored.

15. VIOLATION OF PROBATION If respondent violates probation in any respect, the Division, after giving respondent notice and the opportunity to be heard, may revoke probation and carry out the disciplinary tht was stayed. If an accusation or petition to revoke probation is filed against respondent during probation, the Division shall have continuing jurisdiction until the matter is final, and the period of probation shall be extended until the matter is final.

16. COST RECOVERY Respondent is hereby ordered to reimburse the Division the amount of $14,000.00 (fourteen thousand dollars) for its investigative and prosecution costs. Unless respondent chooses to pay the entire cost recovery amount of $14,000.00 (fourteen thousand dollars) within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this decision, respondent shall pay the Division four installment payments, each in the amount of $3,500.00 (three thousand, five hundred dollars). The first installment payment to the Division of $3,500.00 (three thousand, five hundred dollars) will be due ninety (90) days after the effective date of this decision, and each subsequent installment payment of $3,500.00 (three thousand, five hundred dollars) will be due within ninety (90) days of receipt of the preceding payment. The entire cost recovery amount of $14,000.00 (fourteen thousand dollars) shall be paid in full within one year of the effective date of this decision. Failure to reimburse the Division's cost of investigation and prosecution in the amount and manner set forth here shall constitute a violation of probation. The filing of bankruptcy by respondent shall not relieve him of his responsibility to reimburse the Division for its investigative and prosecution costs.

17. PROBATION COSTS Respondent shall pay the costs associated with probation monitoring each and every year of probation, as designated by the Division, which costs are currently set at $2,488.00 (two thousand, four hundred and eighty-eight dollars) per year, but which may be adjusted on an annual basis. Such costs shall be payable to the Division and delivered to the designated probation surveillance monitor no later than January 31 of each calendar year. Failure to pay costs within 30 days of the due date shall constitute a violation of probation.

18. LICENSE SURRENDER Following the effective date of this decision, if respondent ceases practicing due to retirement, health reasons or is otherwise unable to satisfy the terms and conditions of probation, respondent may voluntarily tender his certificate to the Board. The Division reserves the right to evaluate the respondent's request and to exercise its discretion whether to grant the request, or to take any other action deemed appropriate and reasonable under the circumstances. Upon formal acceptance of the tendered license, respondent will not longer be subject to the terms and conditions of probation.

ACCEPTANCE

I have carefully read the above Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order and I have fully discussed the terms and conditions and other matters contained therein with my attorney Frank Albino, Esq. I understand the effect this Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order will have on my Physician and Surgeon's Certificate. I enter into this Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order freely, voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently, and I agree to be bound by the Division's Disciplinary Order. I further agree that a facsimile copy of this Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order, including facsimile copies of signatures, may be used with the same force and effect as the originals.

DATED: 3/31/01

_________________________
BRUCE M. FROME, M.D.

Respondent

ENDORSEMENT

I have carefully read and fully discussed with my client, respondent Bruce M. Frome, M.D., the terms and conditions and other matters contained in the above Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order. I approve of its form and content.

DATED: 4/4/01

_________________________
FRANK ALBINO, ESQ.
Parker, Milliken, Clark, O'Hara & Samuelian,
A Professional Corporation
Attorney for Respondent

The foregoing Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order is herebyrespectfully submitted for consideration by the Division of Medical Quality of the Medical Board of California, Department of Consumer Affairs,

DATED: APRIL 16, 2001.

The attached Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order is hereby adopted as the Decision and Order of the Division of Medical Quality of the Medical Board of California, Department of Consumer Affairs, State of California.

This Decision shall become effective at 5:00 p.m. ON AUGUST 24, 2001.

IT IS SO ORDERED JULY 25, 2001.

MEDICAL BOARD OF CALIFORNIA

By _____________________________

Hazem H. Chehabi, M.D, Chair
Panel A
Division of Medical Quality

This page was posted on March 18, 2008.

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