Licensing Board Disciplines Psychiatrist Michael H. Tolwin for Negligence

January 25, 2019

On December 14, 2018, the Medical Board of California placed psychiatrist Michael Hirsch Tolwin on probation for three years. Tolwin is operator and president of Tolwin Psychiatric Medical Group, in Culver City, California. 

The Board found Tolwin to have committed gross negligence involving two patients, identified as "J.M." and "D.C."; repeated negligent acts involving J.M., D.C., and third patient, "J.A."; and failure to maintain adequated and accurate records on all three. 

J.M. was a 21-year-old male with a history of suicide attempts and psychiatric hospitalizations, who was already taking Seroquel (antipsychotic), Ambien (sleep aid), and Xanax (for anxiety). During the course of treatment, Tolwin repeatedly and frequently prescribed J.M. numerous controlled substances, including Xanax, Ambien, Klonopin, Subutex, and Adderall, as well as various antidepressants and other drugs. Tolwin continued to prescribe the highly addictive Adderall despite indicators of additiction, such as the patient exhibiting needle marks on his arms, expressing an urge ot use heroin, and being in drug addiction treatment. Tolwin continued to prescribe it despite having never diagnosed J.M. with any condition which would call for the prescribing of Adderall. 

Tolwin never ordered urine drug screens on J.M., which must be done when prescribing benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin) to an admitted opiate addict. Lastly, Tolwin failed to maintain accurate and complete records for J.M. and also failed to provide rationale for prescribing the medications he prescribed to J.M. 

Tolwin treated D.C. for 13 years, starting in 2002. During the course of treatment, he prescribed her numerous controlled substances including Phentermine (amphetamine), Tegretol (anticonvulsant), Mellaril (antipsychotic), Tramadol (narcotic pain med), Prozac (antidepressant) and Restoril (hypnotic sleep aid), despite never having documented an assessment, diagnosis, or treatment place for her.

Patient J.A. began treatment with Tolwin in 2008. Tolwin also prescribed numerous drugs, including controlled substances: Remeron, Celexa, Pristiq, and Luvox (antidepressants), Ativan, Valium, and Xanax (benzodiazepines), and others. In 2013, Tolwin noted in the patient's file "Patient is instructed to find alternative care. Do not provide anymore refills." However, he continued to prescribe for J.A. through 2017, despite information that J.A. may have been addicted to prescription drugs and warning signs that he was a drug seeker. 

Source: Decision and Order in the Matter of the Accusation Against Michael Hirsch Tolwin, M.D., license no. G48816, Case No. 800-2014-009168, Medical Board of California, November 16, 2018.


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