Physician sues telemedicine company over his license suspension

A North Carolina physician is suing Secure Telemedicine for fraud, misrepresentation, and unfair trade practices after his license was suspended in North Carolina and he was publicly reprimanded in several other states due to practicing medicine over the telephone, the Asheville Citizen Times reports.

Dr. Ely David Zaslow also was placed on probation for inappropriately prescribing medications over the phone without a prior physical examination or patient-physician relationship. "On advice from the telemedicine companies, Dr. Zaslow believed a tele­phone evaluation and subsequent prescriptions were consistent with the Board's position," the North Carolina medical board stated in a bulletin announcing his suspension.

The N.C. board says it has seen few causes for discipline surrounding telemedicine, which is itself legal, but is in the process of adopting a new position statement on telemedicine at the request of doctors, says spokesperson Jean Fisher Brinkley. Neither Zaslow nor Secure Telemedicine owner Wolf Shlagman would comment for the Citizen Times article.

And while it remains to be seen whether Zaslow was defrauded by the telemedicine company (he's also been reprimanded for splitting fees collected from patients), Dr. Steve North, a telemedicine advocate and physician at Bakersville Community Medical Clinic, concurs that there is the potential for confusion when marketers claim to answer questions that boards don't necessarily address. Nonetheless, North added, "It is your medical license. It is your name on the prescription. You should know the legal issues surrounding it."

Zaslow's probation was lifted in August 2009 after complying with the board's consent order, but other physicians may not be so lucky. Dr. Beverley Edwards, who ran a practice for years in Anderson, Ind., lost her medical license last month after being accused of prescribing painkillers over the Internet without ever meeting her patients, reports WTHR Eyewitness News.

To learn more:
- read this article in The Citizen Times
- read Zaslow's complaint
- here's information about disciplinary actions against Zaslow in North Carolina, California and Tennessee
- check out this story in Behavioral Health Central
- s
ee this story