Wednesday, June 8, 2011 | 2:58 p.m.
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The Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners today unanimously refused to dismiss an ongoing case against a Henderson doctor whose privileges to prescribe controlled substances were suspended nearly three years ago.
Dr. Kevin Buckwalter, who the board linked to four cases of malpractice, including one where “excessive” doses of narcotics contributed to a patient’s death, filed a motion in February to have the board dismiss its case against him. He argued that the board had not adjudicated the matter in a timely fashion, but the board disagreed.
A Carson City hearing officer who considered the dispute sided with the board in May by ruling it still had authority under state law to keep the case open. The board decided to adopt the hearing officer’s recommendation, meaning suspension dating to November 2008 remains in effect.
The suspension prompted the doctor to sell his business, transferring 1,500 patients to a new medical group. In December 2008, the Drug Enforcement Administration also barred Buckwalter from prescribing controlled substances after alleging at least eight of his patients had died of overdoses since 2005.
The actions by state and federal authorities came after a Las Vegas Sun investigation linked Buckwalter’s practice to multiple patient deaths.
The board scheduled a February 2009 hearing to consider further action against Buckwalter. But the hearing was postponed, and a subsequent effort to strike an agreement between the board and Buckwalter collapsed.
The next step is for the board to conduct a formal hearing that could result in Buckwalter being stripped of his medical license or receiving a public reprimand, said Edward Cousineau, attorney for the board’s investigative committee. It also has the option to lift the suspension if it is determined that such action is no longer warranted. That hearing has not yet been scheduled.
Buckwalter sued the state board in federal court, alleging it violated his civil rights by prohibiting him from prescribing controlled substances. U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson rejected the lawsuit in March, and Buckwalter appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is still pending.