Medical board seeks to revoke psychiatrist Joseph H. Chan's license for gross negligence, incompetence and fraud

October 11, 2010

On September 22, 2010, the Medical Board of California issued an Accusation and Petition to Revoke Probation on psychiatrist Joseph Ling-Hang Chan and is seeking to revoke his license, among other disciplinary measures.

The Board issued an Order on January 12, 2009, suspending Chan for 30 days and placing him on probation for seven years for gross negligence, repeated acts of negligence, incompetence and excessive prescribing involving seven patients, most of whom were elderly.  The Order details how Chan prescribed multiple atypical antipsychotic drugs (Seroquel, Clozaril, etc.) in excessive amounts and failed to maintain appropriate medical records, failed to order appropriate lab tests (specifically with regard to the use of Clozaril) and/or failed to maintain adequate and appropriate records of the results of such tests.

A typical scenario in the January 2009 Order: Chan maintained a 68-year-old patient on Prolixin and Zyprexa (both atypical antipsychotics), among other drugs, and noted in the chart that he would taper the patient off of Prolixin and keep him on Zyprexa, but that did not actually occur for four months.  In another entry, Chan wrote that he would “clean up Prolixin when [the patient] is stable.”  That note was repeated verbatim in the patient’s record for five consecutive months and then was dropped with no explanation.  The notes don’t explain why Chan intended to cross-taper the patient from one drug to the other or why it was not carried out and the records do not provide justification for maintaining the patient on excessive doses of the two drugs.  The records show that shortly after, Chan added an additional antipsychotic, Seroquel, the patient’s regimen, but there was no rationale in the patient’s records for this addition and there was no justification noted when the dosage was increased.     

Additionally, the Order noted that Chan’s patient records in general were not adequate or accurate and that he submitted false billings to public heath plans (Medicare and Medi-Cal).  Specifically, he routinely failed to appropriately document patients’ medications; his rationale for treatment with multiple antipsychotic agents; reasons for making (or failing to make) medication changes; review of laboratory test results; follow up on drug side effects and his communications with the patients’ other health care providers.  Additionally, Chan’s patient records for numerous visits were identical or nearly identical for extended periods; contained factual errors and were missing documentation for numerous months during his care of multiple patients.

Lastly, Chan submitted inaccurate or false health care claims to state and federal health plans (including Medicare and Medi-Cal) for services he had not provided.  In one incident, Chan continued to submit claims for payment of service for nine consecutive months after the patient died.

The Board’s current Accusation and Petition to Revoke is based on Chan’s identical or similar treatment of five additional patients, as well as his failure to consult the patients’ prior medical records and filing false documents, among other things.

The Board noted that “despite remedial clinical education,” Chan “demonstrated little understanding of the purpose of medical records or the importance of maintaining adequate and accurate records; rather, [he] stated that he made trivial changes in his records from visit to visit for the sole purpose of deflecting criticism.”  Additionally, with regard to the false billings, the Board noted that Chan “routinely prepared medical records and bills for services…with the intent to receive compensation for services not rendered” and “admitted to excessive billing, which he justified on the basis that he was not paid enough for his services….”

Source: Accusation and Petition to Revoke Probation in the Matter of the Accusation Against Joseph Ling-Hang Chan, M.D., Physician and Surgeon certificate F50691, Case Nos. D1-2006-174722 and 03-2008-193948 and Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order in the Matter of the Accusation Against Joseph Ling-Hang Chan, M.D., Physician and Surgeon certificate F50691, Case No. 03-2008-193948, Medical Board of California.


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