Board To Address Issues At Pain Clinic

WHEELING – The West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine is expected to hold a special meeting this morning to talk about allegations against Dr. Roland Chalifoux, the physician who allegedly reused needles at his Valley Pain Management Clinic in McMechen.

Board Director Diana Shepard said board members will enter into a closed-door session at 10 a.m. today to discuss the allegations against Chalifoux. Since not all board members will be in Charleston, some will participate via phone. Any possible action that may be taken would be revealed during the open part of the meeting afterward.

The board could decide to suspend Chalifoux’s medical license immediately after such an order is signed by board president Dr. Ernest Miller, she said. Chalifoux would then have 15 days in which to request a hearing.

Chalifoux’s Texas medical license was revoked in June 2004 – a fact the West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine was aware of during its review of his application for a license in the Mountain State.

In addition to the injection practice allegations, the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health also is investigating allegations that Chalifoux placed medical waste in a Dumpster last year, something Shepard said she was not aware of.

Shepard, who became director in 2009, said the board took about a year to consider giving Chalifoux a medical license. Despite the board knowing his license was revoked in Texas, she said Chalifoux had many letters supporting him. He also had many witnesses who spoke on his behalf during a related hearing in Texas, she said. Shepard also claimed the peer review board were also his competitors.

The revocation of his Texas license was based on three different cases, one of which resulted in the death of a patient in 1996.

“He also had a license in Michigan that had no action taken against it,” Shepard said.

Shepard said the fact that Dr. Julian Bailes Jr. at West Virginia University was overseeing Chalifoux’s study and work at the university also held a lot of weight with the board. Bailes, who now works in Illinois, had no comment on the matter.

“A doctor can be a good doctor and 20 years later do something stupid. We wish we had 20-20 hindsight when licensing these guys. If you saw the size of the file, they tried to do everything they could. … They felt comfortable that he was under direct supervision, and the recommendations were flowing,” Shepard said. “They did their due diligence to make the right decision, at the time.”

Meanwhile, because of the potential for infection from the alleged use of dirty needles, public health officials in West Virginia and Ohio this week said patients of the clinic should get tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV as a precaution by their physician or at their local health department. Howard Gamble, Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department administrator, said his health department had tested 10 patients as of Thursday afternoon. It takes two weeks to get results back. Between now and October, Gamble said his health department has the ability to test 30 people per day, if necessary.

The West Virginia Bureau of Public Health filed a subpoena to get a list of Chalifoux’s patient names. Chalifoux’s attorney, Elgine McArdle, said she plans to quash the subpoena.