New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners Revokes License of Jersey City Neurologist, Finding He "Acted As a Drug Dealer" When Prescribing Opiates
NEWARK - Finding that he "repeatedly eschewed and abandoned all of his obligations as a physician, and instead acted solely as a drug dealer," the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners this week revoked the license of Dr. Magdy Elamir, a Jersey City neurologist, and ordered him to pay $100,000 in civil penalties plus $169,009.40 to reimburse the State's investigative and prosecuting costs.
"This action shows the power the Board of Medical Examiners can wield to protect the public from doctors who abuse their authority," Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. "Dr. Elamir was arrested in 2009 and incited on multiple counts – but ultimately pleaded guilty to a much lesser charge and received a suspended sentence. It is only because of the Board's action that he has been prevented from practicing medicine since 2009 and is now barred from the medical profession."
The Board's final decision, announced this week, upholds an Administrative Law Judge's recommendation to revoke Elamir's license. That judge noted, "In a scene more reminiscent of a criminal drug deal than a medical evaluation, Dr. Elamir did not even go through the motions of performing a physical evaluation" when seeing patients who asked for the highly abused drugs Percocet and Xanax, as well as Advair, an asthma medication with a high street value.
The decision concludes a matter that began with Elamir's 2009 arrest in "Operation Medscam," conducted by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and Jersey City Police Department. The Board of Medical Examiners ordered the temporary suspension of Elamir's medical license following his arrest. That order remained in effect – and prevented Elamir from seeing patients or prescribing medications – even after he pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree crime with the dismissal of all remaining charges. It is now superseded by the Board's final decision to revoke his license.
"In addition to being criminal, Elamir's unethical and reckless prescribing clearly endangered the public and contributed to the ongoing crisis of opiate abuse," Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee said. "The Board of Medical Examiners made the right decision to suspend his license, and made the right decision again this week to revoke it.
In the Order commemorating its final decision, the Board noted nine occasions on which Elamir prescribed Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) to patients who, unknown to him, were cooperating witnesses in "Operation Medscam." On each occasion, Elamir wrote CDS prescriptions based on nothing more than the patient's verbal request for the drugs. Elamir acted without conducting any evaluation or examination to determine whether the patients actually needed the drugs, and without maintaining adequate medical records for the visits.
The Administrative Law Judge, in his initial decision, noted that "Elamir was put on notice of the high probability that some of his patients were abusing or reselling (CDS)" because patients "started lining up outside his office" to seek narcotic drugs that other doctors would not prescribe to them. He also was aware that the State Division of Youth and Family Services reportedly suspected one patient of drug abuse.
Separately, the Board of Medical Examiners also found that Elamir dishonestly "upcoded" office visits in order to overcharge Medicare for services he provided. "Upcoding" is the unethical practice of assigning incorrect American Medical Association codes for patient visits, to inflate the value of services provided.
For example, Elamir's office log for October 19, 2009 shows he treated 44 patients in a single day – and he coded each of those visits as "moderately-complex" visits which would typically require 25 minutes of face-to-face contact between doctor and patient. The Administrative Law Judge's decision notes that if Elamir actually performed this amount of care for 44 patients "(starting) at 8 a.m. he would be going until 3 a.m. the next morning, without any breaks."
Despite these findings, Elamir asked the Board during a November 12, 2014 hearing to restore his medical license and allow him to return to medical practice.
The Board's refusal to restore Elamir's medical license, along with its decision to revoke that license and impose $100,000 in civil penalties and $169,009.40 cost reimbursement, is final. Elamir may appeal the Board's decision before the State Appellate Division.
The Division of Consumer Affairs' Enforcement Bureau conducted this investigation.
Deputy Attorney General Kathy Stroh Mendoza and Lisa Brown represented the State in this matter.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an
online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its
website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.
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