RUMFORD — A Rumford physician was issued a warning from the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine on Tuesday, forcing him to cease prescribing controlled substances for the treatment of chronic pain.
Dr. Albert Aniel, a Mexico resident who practices in Rumford, accepted the warning Tuesday in a consent agreement. In the agreement, Aniel conceded that the board had “sufficient evidence from which it could conclude that he violated the standard of care concerning medical record keeping, diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, and prescribing controlled drugs for the treatment of nonmalignant chronic pain.”
The consent agreement prohibits Aniel from prescribing controlled substances for chronic pain, effective Nov. 1, 2013, unless he is treating “a chronic pain patient in skilled nursing facilities or long-term care facilities, in hospice care, or who has metastatic cancer.”
Aniel must also complete a medical record keeping course within six months of being issued the warning.
The consent agreement also states that Aniel will be prohibited from prescribing controlled substances for chronic pain “until the consent agreement is rescinded or amended.”
Randal Manning, executive director of the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine, said it is “normal procedure” for the board to investigate complaints against a medical professional, whether it comes from a colleague or a patient.”
According to the consent agreement, the investigation into Aniel began in 2010, after a patient, who remained anonymous due to confidentiality laws, submitted a complaint that Aniel prescribed them “inappropriate medication and did not listen to their concerns about the side effects she was experiencing.”
The patient alleged that Dr. Aniel ordered tests to determine if they had Lyme disease, and despite negative tests, “prescribed Zithromax, an antibiotic.” After complaining about a series of side effects, Aniel told her that they were “feeling poorly because the Zithromax was working.”
In March 2012, the Board of Licensure in Medicine voted to take a representative sample of 10 of Aniel's patients in an effort to “further investigate his medical record keeping and decision making.”
In July 2012, the board reconvened and found four cases where they “had concerns about Dr. Aniel's medical record keeping and decision making,” and decided that his record keeping “was inadequate as it did not reflect his medical thinking or decision making.”
The Board of Licensure in Medicine is made up of six physicians and three public members appointed by the governor, with the intent of protecting the health and welfare of the public by verifying the qualifications of physicians to practice and disciplining physicians for unprofessional conduct and incompetence.