Holistic doctor must save his license

December 19, 1992|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Staff Writer

A Laurel doctor already placed on probation by state regulators for his use of holistic methods now faces the loss of his license to practice medicine for the next 2 1/2 years.

Maryland's Board of Physicians Quality Assurance voted last week to revoke the probation of Dr. Ahmad Shamim, whose offices are in the 200 block of Fort Meade Road. But the board gave Dr. Shamim three more weeks to prove he has changed his methods and save his license.

In an order released Thursday, the board found that Dr. Shamim

was incompetent in his treatment of 33 patients from 1984 until 1988.

The board found that Dr. Shamim prescribed vitamin injections for patients without evidence of vitamin deficiency and ordered treatments without conducting tests to diagnose illnesses. In some cases, when vitamin and herbal treatments didn't work, he failed to suggest alternative treatments or recommend specialists, the board said. In one case, he waited three weeks before ordering X-rays of a patient suspected of having a broken thumb, according to the order.

The board's order is the latest salvo in a 12-year battle between Dr.

Shamim, a general surgeon and family practitioner, and the state's medical establishment.

The doctor's license first was suspended in 1984 for three years, but it was reinstated after several months when he completed re-education programs.

Dr. Shamim's lawyer, Henry E. Schwartz, said his client intends to prove that he is practicing competent medicine.

"We'd like very much to work out a way to allow Dr. Shamim to continue practicing," Mr. Schwartz said.

Dr. Shamim began practicing holistic medicine in 1980 and first ran afoul of the state's medical licensing agency four years later.

The agency found that he had falsely claimed that a patient was terminally ill in order to justify prescribing laetrile, an experimental and highly controversial drug made from peach or apricot pits. At that time, the agency suspended his license for filing the false report and for incompetence, not for prescribing herbs, teas, vitamins, hair analyses and intestinal cleanings.

"Nothing in the 1984 order prohibits him from practicing unorthodox or preventive medicine," said the order released this week. "We alsorecognize that many advances in science come from novel ways of looking at problems."

The state brought the new charges after monitoring Dr. Shamim's records for several years. In a hearing a year and a half ago, the board cited evidence of incompetence in 33 cases.

The board said Dr. Shamim failed repeatedly to keep adequate records and failed to show proof that he informed patients that the treatments he gave were unconventional.

Mr. Schwartz agreed that his client did not always keep complete records, but he pointed out that some of Dr. Shamim's patients testified on his behalf and 262 submitted affidavits in support of him.

"They know he practices holistic medicine, that's why they go to him," Mr. Schwartz said.

The administrative law judge who heard the case recommended that Dr. Shamim's license be revoked, but the board voted instead to revoke Dr. Shamim's probation.

Dr. Israel Weiner, the chairman, said the board did not take action because Dr. Shamim used unconventional treatments, but because he practiced "bad medicine."

The board seems willing, however, to allow Dr. Shamim to prescribe nonconventional remedies, provided he follows standard diagnostic procedures, informs patients that the treatments are not conventional and keeps complete records.

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