Doctor Had His License Revoked

WHEELING – Dr. Roland Chalifoux – the physician accused of reusing needles at his Valley Pain Management clinic in McMechen – had his Texas medical license revoked June 17, 2004, after one of his neurosurgical patients died.

Meanwhile, another state investigation is still pending related to Chalifoux allegedly dumping medical waste in a Dumpster in South Wheeling last year. The waste included syringes and vials of blood, said Howard Gamble, Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department administrator. Toby Wagoner, spokesman for the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, said he could not comment on the state’s waste investigation because it was an “ongoing and active investigation, and the bureau cannot comment until the case is resolved.”

Gamble added while the state’s investigation still is pending, his health department conducted an investigation of its own, and it was settled via an agreement that called for Chalifoux to create and submit a waste management plan, along with proof of destruction of the medical waste.

“There were two separate investigations dealing with medical waste issues with the Valley Pain Management clinic. We did one concerning the dumping of medical waste in South Wheeling, the state Bureau for Public Health is doing one concerning violating the West Virginia Infectious Medical Waste Rule,” Gamble said.

“Ours was settled with an agreement, which the City Attorney for Wheeling and I agreed upon.”

Gamble added his health department’s investigation did not result in Chalifoux pleading guilty or being found guilty and he was not fined.

Chalifoux’s attorney, Elgine McArdle, said there was no medical waste dumping.

Wheeling Police Deputy Chief Martin Kimball said he remembers when the waste was discovered by the Dumpster’s owner. He said officers were able to identify its origin by paperwork that was with it.

In regard to Chalifoux’s Texas medical license, according to an order from the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners, the board decided to revoke Chalifoux’s licensure based on results of three different cases reviewed by its administrative law judges. One of those patients, a 61-year-old man, died in 1996 as a result of Chalifoux attempting to occlude an artery in the man’s brain, which resulted in a massive infarct, stroke and death. It was determined that no immediate life-threatening condition existed for the man that required Chalifoux to block off the patient’s carotid artery. It was noted in the order that Chalifoux’s co-surgeon told him to not go any further during the surgery, but he did anyway.

Despite his license being revoked by Texas in June 2004, Chalifoux on July 1, 2004, was given a restricted license to practice medicine in West Virginia. The West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine – based on Chalifoux’s application; his disclosure that his Texas license had been suspended in 2002; and after the board learned Chalifoux was to receive additional training at West Virginia University under Dr. Julian Bailes Jr. – decided to issue the restricted license to practice osteopathic medicine and surgery.

Chalifoux’s restricted license would only allow him to practice medicine at WVU.

About a year later, the board during its June 29, 2005, meeting approved granting Chalifoux an unrestricted license to practice medicine in West Virginia.

Officials with the West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine could not be reached for comment about why Chalifoux was granted a restricted license despite having lost his Texas medical license just a month before.

Wagoner said his agency’s investigation into injection practices at the clinic started with an initial case of meningitis.

“Upon confirmation of unsafe practices at Valley Pain Management Clinic, a corrective plan regarding practices for infectious disease controls was developed for the clinic and the clinic complied with this corrective action plan as of Jan. 7, 2014,” Wagoner said. “Upon receipt of additional information, the bureau was informed that there was a risk of exposure of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and/or HIV associated with unsafe infectious disease control practices. The bureau has made repeated requests for patient lists to assist with warning patients of potential infectious disease exposure. The bureau has issued a subpoena for the patient list in order to compel Valley Pain Management to assist with the investigation.”

McArdle said Chalifoux denies the bureau’s allegations. McArdle plans to quash the state’s subpoena for patient records. She believes the bureau is “going on a fishing expedition” because there has been no related hearing regarding the injection investigation.

The clinic opened in 2010. Because of the investigation, Ohio Department of Health and West Virginia officials on Monday released separate statements advising the clinic’s patients to get tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV as a precaution.