Holistic Laurel doctor back in business after reinstatement by Md. board

September 13, 1994|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Sun Staff Writer

After 19 months of forced exile from his medical practice, holistic doctor Ahmad Shamim is back in business, much to the relief of his patients.

The state's Board of Physician Quality Assurance reinstated the Laurel doctor's license in late July and he reopened his office four weeks ago. The board had suspended Dr. Shamim's license for 2 1/2 years in December 1992, saying he mishandled the treatment of several patients.

He regained his privilege to practice almost a year early after taking a medical refresher course and meeting other criteria set by the board.

Dr. Shamim would not talk on record about how he made ends meet over the past year, but said the experience has put him in debt. Despite that, Dr. Shamim -- a general practitioner who incorporates alternative medical treatments in his practice -- was upbeat when interviewed last week and said he would continue using nutritional therapies.

"There will be no significant changes in the way I practice. I will continue to provide advice that conventional medicine has to offer," he said, but added that nontraditional treatments would remain the focus of the practice.

His treatments center on nutrition and vitamins to restore health, although he uses mainstream drugs and treatments as well.

Many of his 800 patients, who have ailments from diabetes to cancer, have gone without medical attention while he was out of business, he said. "Many of them have just tried to bear the pain," he said. "Some of them have had setbacks."

Dr. Shamim has treated six to eight patients daily since reopening. Each patient needs a complete examination, he said, because so many months have passed since he last saw them.

Although the bulk of his patients live in Anne Arundel, Prince George's and Montgomery counties, the doctor treats patients from many states, including Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

"I have no question about his competence. I have a lot more faith in him than [in] most doctors," said patient Anne S. Scrivener of Millersville, who had been treated by Dr. Shamim for a number of ailments. "I just think it's really outrageous what they did to him."

When his license was suspended, patients waged an aggressive letter-writing and phone-calling campaign, attempting to sway the board.

The 63-year-old doctor and his backers believe this active support and state and federal legislation introduced to protect alternative doctors have helped to educate mainstream physicians.

"The positive that has come out of all of this is the impact on the board," Dr. Shamim said. "In 1982, I was told in no uncertain terms to stop all nutritional therapies. Now, most conventional doctors accept it."

Most of Dr. Shamim's patients have sought him out specifically because he uses alternative treatments and many credit him with saving their lives when faced with a variety of life-threatening diseases, including breast and brain cancer.

Dr. Shamim has been feuding with conventional doctors for 12 years. After failing to change his methods after being warned in 1982, he lost his license in 1984 for "professional incompetence and willfully filing a false report," according to the physician's board. It was reinstated seven months later in April 1985 and he was placed on probation.

He ran afoul of the board again in 1990 for failing to "properly utilize and order standard diagnostic tests when medically indicated" and failing to document patients' refusal to submit to standardized tests.

After a lengthy process, the board suspended his license in late 1992. It voted to reinstate the license in July of this year on the condition he develop an appropriate patient disclosure statement, making it clear he was using alternative treatments or diagnostic tests.

He also had to agree to fully document in each patients' record that he had discussed conventional methods of treatment and the risks associated with not following these methods, as well as his plan for treating the patient with alternative techniques.

"He had to meet certain conditions to be reinstated, and he met them," said Barbara Vona, chief of the compliance unit of the board. "It's all in the reinstatement order. It's pretty cut and dried."

On August 17, Dr. Shamim reopened his Laurel office off Fort Meade Road -- the same office where he has practiced for 25 years -- after sending notices to all his patients. He will continue on supervised probation with the Quality Assurance Board for the next three years.

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