Unlicensed surgeon found working at Shock Trauma Doctor dismissed

records show failure to get state license

October 04, 1995|By Douglas Birch | Douglas Birch,SUN STAFF

A surgeon who spent the past two years helping treat patients at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center is not licensed to practice medicine, flunked licensing exams at least 11 times and was convicted in 1985 of attempted bribery in an effort to get an advance copy of one such exam, Maryland and Ohio records show.

Dr. Arthur B. Boyd Jr., 48, whose permanent home is in Shaker Heights, Ohio, "deceived" Shock Trauma when he applied for a three-year training fellowship there in 1993 by claiming to hold a license, said Joel Lee, a Shock Trauma spokesman.

Dr. Boyd was dismissed yesterday after hospital officials were alerted by a reporter's inquiry.

His dismissal comes a few days after Shock Trauma administrators learned that a former nursing aide, accused of using his job to steal credit information from a critically-wounded police officer, is a parolee who had been convicted of killing his mother.

Dr. Boyd, reached by phone at his home near Cleveland on Monday evening, neither admitted nor denied practicing without a license.

"I don't have a reaction to this," he said. "I'm not going to answer any more of your questions." He said he would "probably" have his lawyer answer questions at some point, but declined to give his lawyer's name.

From 1993 until September, he also worked in the trauma division of the Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly, a spokesman for that hospital said. The surgeon was paid $32,000 a year at Shock Trauma and another $18,000 annually by Prince George's Hospital Center.

Officials at the state Board of Physician Quality Assurance said that they plan to serve Dr. Boyd today with a cease-and-desist order to stop working as a doctor in Maryland.

Practicing medicine without a license is a misdemeanor here. But it's also a violation of state licensing rules, and the board can fine violators up to $50,000.

As one of 25 Shock Trauma fellows in trauma surgery, Dr. Boyd helped senior physicians treat and operate on some of the most critically-injured patients in the state. Concern about his case prompted hospital officials to review the licenses of all of the hospital's doctors, Mr. Lee said. All were found to be valid, he added.

"The first thing you want to make sure is that it's not a structural problem that exists," he said. "And it is not. It's an isolated incident."

He called Dr. Boyd "a capable surgeon," despite his apparent lack of required credentials. And there's no record that any patients were hurt, Mr. Lee said.

Over the past two years, Mr. Lee said, Dr. Boyd was repeatedly asked by supervisors to produce proof he held a valid physician's license.

"In each case he said he would produce the license," Mr. Lee said. "Later, he would say that he was having a difficult time getting the license."

"It is my understanding that the department of surgery continually asked for his license," said another Shock Trauma employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "He said: 'I haven't got it,' 'I'll bring it in,' 'I'll get it to you.' "

At one point, Mr. Lee said, Dr. Boyd claimed he had engaged an attorney to help him obtain a copy of his license from a state board, explaining that there was some mix-up at the agency.

Dr. Boyd worked at Shock Trauma from July 1993 until yesterday.

According to "Who's Who in the Midwest 1994-'95," Dr. Boyd is a native of North Carolina, an inventor of medical devices, a professor at a Cleveland community college and an executive with a business called the Motown Beverage Co. of Ohio, with his home as its headquarters.

He is a 1978 graduate of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., the registrar there confirmed.

In "Who's Who," Dr. Boyd also reported that he was an intern in surgery at Howard University Hospital in Washington from 1978 to 1980, a resident in surgery at St. Luke's Hospital in Cleveland from 1981 to 1984, and a fellow in liver transplant surgery at the University of Pittsburgh from 1984 to 1985.

The directory does not mention Dr. Boyd's Shock Trauma fellowship.

Mr. Lee said Dr. Boyd "capitalized" on the confusion created by sweeping administrative changes at Shock Trauma in 1993 -- including the firing of Dr. Kimball I. Maull -- to hoodwink hospital officials.

He said that a similar failure to verify credentials is unlikely today, because beginning this year, Shock Trauma began routinely checking both the licenses and criminal records of physicians who come to work there.

Mr. Lee denied that the hospital's hiring of the parolee, John Wayne Cunningham, and the unlicensed doctor showed a pattern of failure to screen personel.

"When we hired Cunningham, there was no question in our mind that he had a criminal conviction," he said. "We were not given full information by Department of Corrections." With Dr. Boyd, he said, the hospital was deceived.

Records of the State Medical Board of Ohio show that Dr. Boyd failed to pass a multi-state medical licensing exam, known as the FLEX exam, at least 11 times between 1978 and 1984.

Dr. Boyd took six FLEX exams in Tennessee, four in Michigan, and one in North Carolina. His best performance on the three-day exam was a score of 70 points, but the passing grade was 75.

In 1985, he pleaded no contest to charges that he offered a $20,000 bribe to a Michigan state employee for a copy of a future FLEX exam. He was sentenced to 30 days in the Ingham County, Mich., jail and fined $450.

Dr. Boyd, who is married with two children, divided his time between Maryland and Ohio and until recently was renting a home in Baltimore.

Several of Dr. Boyd's former colleagues expressed surprise at the reasons behind his dismissal.

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