vegetarian doc martens Embattled doctor suspended again
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The Pennsylvania Board of Osteopathic Medicine has again suspended embattled Dr. Mark Gonsky’ medical license amid allegations he showed up drunk to his Fairview Township practice and assaulted staff members and a patient.
Prosecutors allege that Gonsky has a “long standing, severe alcohol abuse problem” and presents an “immediate danger” as a practicing physician.
Meanwhile, documents released Thursday by the Department of State reveal a patient under Gonsky’s care died in 2007 of chronic acetaminophen poisoning as a result of taking medication he prescribed.
According to a consent agreement between Gonsky and the state Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, Gonsky began treating an unidentified woman in 2005, after she was involved in a car crash that caused neck and back pain.
Gonsky prescribed Vicodin, which contains hydrocodone and acetaminophen, from 2006 until the woman’s death in October 2007 at the age of 23, the agreement says.
During that time, the woman repeatedly reported symptoms including nausea, facial swelling, fatigue and constipation, and in one case her father called the office to report she had become incoherent, the agreement says.
During a deposition, Gonsky testified that, although it isn’t noted anywhere, he counseled the patient against taking more than 4,000 milligrams of acetaminophen, the agreement says.
“Tylenol, which is a very, very safe medicine and has minimal side effects that even 4,500 (milligrams) even for a whole month per day is typically not going to cause any damage,” the agreement quotes Gonsky as saying.
The woman died at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, Plains Township, on Oct. 14, 2007. The hospital’s attending physician attributed her death to liver “failure secondary to chronic acetaminophen toxicity,” according to the document.
In the December 2011 agreement with the state, Gonsky did not admit wrongdoing in the case but acknowledged he failed to maintain complete records for his patient. He agreed to attend a drug prescription course, evaluate his record keeping and more closely monitor chronic pain patients.
The board previously suspended Gonsky’s license in March after he was arrested in February on charges alleging he drunkenly threatened to shoot a police officer between the eyes and fired a gun in his yard.
But new information has since surfaced indicating Gonsky is a continuing danger, and the board sought an additional suspension in the event his license is reinstated in the first case, according to a petition filed in court Sept. 20.
That information includes the fact Gonsky was arrested on driving under the influence charges in 1999, 2003 and 2007, and again in April when police found him driving drunk on an all terrain vehicle to Weis Market on state Route 309 in Wright Township, according to the petition.
Investigators learned Gonsky appeared at his office on numerous occasions after he’d been drinking, and that one day in March the office was closed because “the doctor was drunk,” the petition says.
Two members of Gonsky’s office told them the doctor assaulted them and a patient on March 15 while he was drunk. Criminal court records allege the three were trying to get Gonsky into treatment for alcohol abuse when he grew irate and kicked the patient, who was also a friend of Gonsky’s, in the lower back, just below a body brace the patient needs for a spinal injury.
The petition also notes Gonsky’s ex wife also sought a restraining order against him in March after he allegedly threatened to kill her and her son.
Gonsky, 60, of Fairview Township, remains jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility awaiting trial in several criminal cases on charges including making terroristic threats, simple assault, disorderly conduct and driving under the influence. Since he was jailed in May, he has not attended any substance abuse treatment, the petition says.
Court records show Gonsky’s landlords evicted him in August because he owed $6,000 in unpaid rent. But that’s not the only loose end he left behind.
Patients say they have been unable to get their medical records since his practice closed, and they are getting frustrated.
Former Fairview Township resident Fred Heller, 61, said he found Gonsky to be a “compassionate, very thorough” physician. But in the months before Gonsky’s first arrest in February, Heller said he noticed some “very strange things” going on and, after his prescriptions began coming through late, he went elsewhere.
He left about a month before Gonsky’s “meltdown” and neither he nor his doctor have been able to get his medical records since, he said.
“The office is closed and God knows where the records went,” Heller said, noting his doctor has had to take his word for his medical history. “I’m sure we can take it from here, but it bothers me that I don’t know where my medical records are.”