Maryland's medical discipline board suspended the license yesterday of a doctor who operated an extensive nursing home practice in Baltimore's inner city, after scathing state reviews of two nursing centers where he cared for patients.
The action against Dr. Mark Davis came a day after the state health department began transporting the 24 most fragile patients out of his 150-bed Poplar Manor Nursing Home in West Baltimore -- amid recent findings that conditions there presented an imminent threat to patients' health and safety.
Dr. Davis is the leading member of a partnership that purchased Poplar Manor earlier this year. He also served as its medical director andas the primary-care physician forall its patients, according to of-ficials.
But Carl Ameringer, an assistant attorney general who represents the health department, said yesterday that the emergency suspension was based not only on recent events at Poplar Manor but also on information surrounding Dr. Davis' performance as medical director at the nearby Dukeland Nursing Center.
Dr. Davis had served as Dukeland's medical director until last year, when the owners dismissed him after a state investigation that found widespread lapses in nursing care and unsanitary conditions. The owners, under intense pressure from the health department, subsequently sold Dukeland, and it has since received a clean bill of health.
Yesterday, a defiant Dr. Davis called his suspension "unfounded and without merit" and vowed to appeal.
"I will fight this to the highest level," he said. "This is unfounded, and it is all political. Poplar Manor is nothing they say it is. It was a clean and good nursing home."
Dr. Davis said that he accepted sick patients who had been rejected by other nursing homes as too much trouble and that two of his wheelchair patients attend college.
A state judge placed Poplar Manor under receivership yesterday, appointing a management consultant to direct the care of all patients there.
State health inspectors had spent 10 days at Poplar Manor early last month, combing through records, interviewing employees and talking to patients. But Dr. Davis said the health department "conjured up" its 78-page litany of criticisms to hurt him personally, although he said he could not elaborate further in the midst of legal proceedings.
Under state law, he can request a hearing before an administrative law judge. Failing a favorable result, he then could pursue appeals through the courts.
After the inspections, the state forbade the home from accepting new patients.
The federal government, meanwhile, disqualified Poplar Manor from receiving Medicare payments. And the home has until Thursday to correct conditions or get disqualified from Medicaid -- which pumped $2.1 million into the home lastyear.
"This is clearly consistent with the mandate the governor has given that we will not tolerate the abuse and mistreatment of nursing home residents in this state," said Deputy Health Secretary Nelson J. Sabatini, who urged the Board of Physician Quality Assurance last year to investigate the doctor.
In its review, the health department cited Poplar Manor for poor physician and nursing services. Inspectors said the staff administered potentially toxic levels of medication, ignored patients' sudden weight loss and made records of treating patients who weren't there.
In one case, nurses wrote that they turned a patient every two hours, applied ointment to his skin and applied protective restraints during a three-day period after the patient died.