State indicts doctor for alleged neglect at nursing homes

November 07, 1991|By Brian Sullam

A Lutherville physician who had been responsible for more than 300 nursing home patients has been indicted and charged with criminal neglect of six patients at the former Poplar Manor Nursing Home.

Dr. Mark Davis, 40, becomes the first person to be charged with neglect under a new state law designed to protect "vulnerable adults" from abuse as vigorously as children, the state attorney general's office said yesterday in announcing the indictments. The 1989 law makes the willful deprivation of medical care, food, clothing and therapy a crime if the victim is in a nursing home, group home or other facility offering care.

In suspending Dr. Davis' medical license last November, the state's Board of Physician Quality Assurance cited his failure to take medical histories of patients, to order proper amounts of insulin for a diabetic patient and to respond quickly to an acutely ill patient.

The board also said Dr. Davis, who has been practicing internal medicine since 1981, prescribed toxic amounts of a drug in one case.

Dr. Davis turned himself in yesterday to the state police and was released on his own recognizance. He is scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 4 in Baltimore Circuit Court.

"It is important that care-givers understand that the attorney general's office will prosecute cases involving the abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults," Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. said yesterday. "We are vigorous about protecting vulnerable children, but there is the other end of the spectrum of vulnerable adults who are in nursing homes and other facilities who deserve protection as well."

Richard C. B. Woods, Dr. Davis' attorney, responded: "Dr. Davis is not guilty of the crime. He will enter a plea of not guilty. . . . It appears that, given the news release by the attorney general and his appearance on television, Dr. Davis is being hung out to dry."

Mr. Woods said he found it "highly suspicious" that the indictments were announced at the same time Dr. Davis was appearing before a state administrative board to regain his license to practice medicine.

Until last November, Dr. Davis was owner, medical director and attending physician for all 157 residents at the Poplar Manor Nursing Home in the 3300 block of Poplar Street in West Baltimore.

He also served as attending physician for the former Dukeland Nursing Home in the 1500 block of Dukeland Street. In addition, Dr. Davis maintained a separate medical practice in Ellicott City at that time.

State health officials forced the sale of both Dukeland and Poplar Manor to new owners after finding patterns of patient neglect.

During the time Dr. Davis was Poplar Manor's medical director, nurses filled in a medical chart for a patient who was not at the nursing home but had been sent to Liberty Medical Center, according to the Board of Physician Quality Assurance's November 1990 report.

He also was accused of failing to treat serious bedsores on one patient and with treating a serious urinary tract infection in the same patient with Tylenol instead of antibiotics.

In October 1990, state health officials slapped a ban on admissions to Poplar Manor because of the abuses cited by the board. Later in the year, Dr. Davis sold his interest in the nursing home.

The crime of intentionally abusing or neglecting a vulnerable adult by a person paid to care for him or her is punishable by five years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both.

"We do not seek fines," said Mr. Curran last night. "If we bring an indictment, we seek jail sentences."

Also yesterday, the attorney general's office announced the separate indictments of Roland J. Brown, 25, of the 7300 block of Oakland Mills Road, Columbia, and Katherine H. Keyes, 63, of the 6000 block of Old Frederick Road, Catonsville.

Mr. Brown, who was formerly employed by Progress Unlimited as a residential aide in a home for disabled adults, was charged with three counts of battery and two counts of abuse of a vulnerable person.

Mrs. Keyes was charged with two counts of battery on a disabled and chronically ill woman who was under her care at the Forest Haven Nursing Home.

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