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Doctors Behaving Badly: New Jersey board smears good doc with another's crimes

Doctors Behaving Badly: New Jersey board smears good doc with another's crimes

Pity Dr. Benjamin Levine, a rheumatologist licensed in New Jersey, who, by all accounts, has done nothing but a fine job since earning his medical license in 2005.

Levine happens to have the same name as a family practice doctor with a long history of molesting patients and defrauding insurance companies. And, because the Medical Board of New Jersey does such a lousy job of providing the public information on the doctors it has disciplined, it gives people the mistaken impression that the Squeaky Clean Dr. Levine is actually the Former Inmate Dr. Levine.

Here's how it happens.

A patient goes to see the rheumatologist. They tell their friend, "I'm seeing Dr. Benjamin Levine, and he's doing wonders for my arthritis." The well-meaning friend says, "I think I read about him in the newspaper. He might have done something funny with some female patients. You better check him out."

So the patient does. She reads this story in the Courier News:

A Middlesex County jury has convicted an East Brunswick doctor of practicing medicine without a license and stealing money from Medicare and insurance carriers. Benjamin Levine, 69, was also found guilty of theft by deception, two counts of falsifying records and insurance fraud. Levine's attorney, Christopher Campbell, told jurors that the state medical board was aware of Levine's situation and did nothing about it, negating the intent necessary for Levin's actions or lack of them to be considered a crime. Levine was convicted of molesting nine female patients in 1996, landing him in jail for 180 days.

The state medical board suspended Levine's license for two years in 1991 in connection with the molestation incidents and reinstated his license on a probationary basis in 1993, requiring him to have a registered nurse present for all his physical examinations. He was charged in another molestation case in 2006 after being accused by a female patient, but was acquitted in February.

After reading this story, the patient then goes to the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners' website, and sees a link for "Find Your Doctor." She types in "Benjamin Levine" and only one name pops up: Benjamin Levine, rheumatologist. This must be the guy! She cancels her next appointment.

If you spend more time on the medical board's frustrating site, the confusion only deepens.

Right below the link for "Find Your Doctor" is a link for "Licensee Search." It asks you to fill in the "Profession."  Here, patients will find two Drs. Levine, though no clue as to which is which. The site indicates that one Levine had his license revoked at some point, maybe in 2003, although we can't be certain. The page says that the doctor has been subject to a "board action," but then says, "Please visit DCA's website to see the final disposition documents." There is no link provided. If you Google "New Jersey DCA," this is what you get. Not much help unless you are looking for a break on your power bill.

Final question: What does the other Dr. Levine think about all this? He now works in New York, and when I tracked him down at his office, he said that he, too, was concerned about the possibility of mistaken identities. "I read about him, and was a little worried. It's not a simple case. It would be much better if the board made it clear that there are two of us but only one of us has been disciplined." Levine said that other websites now draw on both doctor's profiles to give patients the impression that there is just one doctor, him, with a disciplinary record. "With the internet, it's so easy for information like this to cause a lot of confusion. It should be easier for patients to know who is who."

To see the disciplined Dr. Benjamin Levine, and others, on the Doctors Behaving Badly Google map, click here.

To inquire or to quibble, write askantidote [at] gmail [dot] com.

Related Posts:

The Doctors Behaving Badly tour thus far:

New Hampshire medical board keeps doc's manslaughter history hush-hush

Nebraska medical board gives love tap to doctor

Medical board gives addicted Montana doctor last chances galore

Michigan medical board keeps physician's misdeeds under cover

Doctor dinged twice by Missouri med board decries rising insurance costs

Mississippi makes public pony up for peek at doctor histories

Minnesota doc bends pregnant patients to weird whims

Massachusetts doc's solo flights leave patients plummeting with no chute

Maine welcomes psychiatrist with fraud conviction and drug abuse concerns

Louisiana board keeps doctor's inappropriate history hush-hush

Sixty-somethings, beware of this inappropriate Louisiana internist with a secret past

Kentucky weight loss doctor ordered to reform his battering ways

Medical boards should drop the stone tools, join the digital age

Kansas medical board hides misdeeds from public scrutiny

In Iowa, having an MD is a license to take meth

Indiana doc plays the victim when finally caught overdosing patients

Indiana drug mill kept patients happy and hooked

Chicago doc accused in baby's death gets by with a little help from the Klan

Illinois obstetrician's malpractice case leaves one patient victorious, others stonewalled

Idaho board bars doctor from tummy tucks, facelifts and other plastic surgery

Hawaii psychiatrist hides from sex abuse troubles with "mahalo" from state

Georgia ob/gyn made his office a singles bar

Florida Doc Charged with Soliciting Underage Sex Online

Toys in Delaware pediatrician's basement didn't make it less of a dungeon

Warned about Delaware doctor's dungeon, hospital shrugged

DC anesthesiologist was caught with painkillers meant for babies

Connecticut fertility doctor survives despite bombshell accusation

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Colorado, Part 1

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Colorado, Part 2

California emergency care physician reported for duty drunk

WMDs won't cost doctors their MD in Arkansas

Arizona faith healer finally steps outside medical board's good graces

Alabama eye doctor prescribed drugs to patients, sight unseen

Alaska psychiatrist drew the sex abuse line at coworkers

 

 

 

Comments

This is why more doctors should pressure medical boards for full disclosure; crappy information or none at all will hurt the honest ones eventually. Nice post, Bill.

There's a need for good information on doctors, here's HealthGrades who list dead doctors too:)  They get their information from state boards and from insurance companies but nobody seems to want to buy the social security fiduciary data base to cross check and see if they are still alive.

http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2010/09/healthgrades-and-other-md-rating-and.html

They also create additional mirrored web sites to generate more sales, so we get double, triple or whatever the effect of dead doctors showing up. 

Thanks both of you for your comments. Doctors, it seems to me, should not be forced to police their medical board profiles, especially if they are operating within the guidelines, as most are. My conversation with Dr. Levine made it clear to me that there is just as much frustration out there in the medical community with how information about doctors is presented by the boards as there is among patients (and reporters). It would be great to hear from more doctors on the topic. If you have an MD or DO and have a comment, please post it here or send a note to askantidote [at] gmail [dot] com.

So out of curiousity, *IS* there a DCA web site to which we can view these "Final Disposition Documents"?

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