The state Board of Osteopathic Medicine found an eye doctor guilty of 12 counts of malpractice and unprofessional conduct for performing and billing unnecessary eye procedures but did not revoke the doctor's license during a hearing on Saturday.
The most serious charges against Dr. J. Daniel Carpenter -- that his actions caused a patient to go blind -- were not upheld by the board, according to Trey Delap, deputy executive director of the board.
The board voted to put Carpenter on probation for two years, with quarterly chart reviews and he must reimburse the board for the costs of the hearing, Delap said. The costs are estimated to be $200,000, but the actual amount will be determined at another hearing.
Carpenter was facing 28 counts of malpractice and unethical and unprofessional conduct. The complaint stated that Carpenter's actions left one patient blind and damaged the vision of other patients.
He was also accused of double-billing as well as multiple counts of charging patients for services not performed.
Dr. Rudy Manthei, chairman of the board, said he believed the board should have revoked Carpenter's license.
"I don't think the board acted in the best interest of the people of Nevada," Manthei said. "I personally do not agree with the board's decision -- it wasn't appropriate."
Manthei did not serve on the board deciding Carpenter's case because he previously gave information to investigators regarding Carpenter. He declined to say what the information was.
He said, however, that because of the severity of the charges he was found guilty of, the board should have stripped Carpenter of his license.
Carpenter was found guilty of seven counts of malpractice and five counts of unprofessional and unethical conduct.
In one instance, carpenter was found guilty of performing cataract surgery on patient Maurice Butler's left eye "despite the lack of any complaint from the patient regarding his vision," according to the complaint.
The board also found Carpenter guilty of performing tests and procedures on a patient, Vivian Torres Cabellero, even though she didn't need it or consent to them, the complaint stated.
In a post brief hearing filed by the Nevada attorney general's office through board member Gary Mono, who served as investigator, patient Mary Kirchhofer complained that she was billed for multiple procedures that she did not need, including tests in preparation for cataract surgery "that was not medically necessary," according to the brief.
The brief also stated that because of Carpenter's actions, a patient, Richard Truman, suffered pain, nausea and even vomiting. Carpenter was treating Truman for glaucoma.
The brief alleged that because Truman's postoperative care was inadequate and ineffective, he lost vision in one eye.
This allegation was not upheld by the board.
Board members said the evidence against Carpenter was not enough to warrant a revocation of his license.
Board Member Dr. Matthew McMahon said Carpenter was primarily guilty of lapses in judgment and not inadequate medical skills and there was not a pattern of dangerous behavior.
"A physician's license should be revoked or suspended when it is clear that the physician poses a significant risk to the public," he said. In this case, Carpenter did not pose such a risk, he said.
The board has previously revoked or suspended the licenses of several doctors, including Jim Wang, whose license was suspended after he was accused of selling the painkiller OxyContin to men who didn't need the drug.
The board also revoked the license of Edward Hoffman in December for distributing nonapproved versions of a flu vaccine and botox.
Another board member, Dr. Daniel Curtis, said many of the charges against Carpenter were related to patient billing and record keeping. He said finding Carpenter guilty of those didn't merit taking away his license.
"Is inadequate recording keeping malpractice?" he asked.
He said, however, that the board "is on top of every single action that comes before the board" and Carpenter did not get a slap on the wrist.
"He is under a microscope now, and he did not walk away scot-free," Curtis said.
Carpenter has maintained a very public stance that he is the victim of a vindictive doctor who manufactured the accusations against him. He denied the bulk of the charges.
He said, however, that he is satisfied that the board voted to allow him to keep his license.
"I'm very happy because I'm practicing medicine," he said on Tuesday.
Carpenter, who was licensed by the board in 1999, reiterated that he never blinded anyone or performed unnecessary surgery on any patient.
"If those charges were true, I would not be practicing medicine," he said.