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Duggal’s medical license suspended until case is concluded
POULSBO — The medical license of Dr. Narinder Duggal of Liberty Bay Internal Medicine was suspended by the state Medical Quality Assurance Commission Wednesday, after the commission filed an Amended Statement of Charges against him.
The charges added two patient complaints to the original Statement of Charges, filed Nov. 28, for a total of eight patient complaints.
The charges allege Duggal failed to properly examine patients, overprescribed medication and made sexual advances toward patients. One of the additional patients, labeled Patient H, was diagnosed with metastatic ovarian cancer after seeing another doctor. The charges allege Duggal "ignored drug toxicology screen results," and his electronic medical record-keeping was "virtually impossible to track the patient's physical condition and progress."
Duggal's practice offers pain management and outpatient drug rehabilitation.
In a rare decision, a four-member panel made up of commission members issued a summary action to suspend Duggal's license to protect the public.
"When the commission believes that a regulated license provider poses an immediate risk of harm to the public, it can seek an emergency order of summery action," said Larry Berg, staff attorney for the medical commission.
Duggal cannot practice as a physician in Washington until the charges are resolved.
"[Duggal's] practice is not based on providing health care to his patients; rather, [Duggal] seeks to obtain maximum rewards from minimum efforts," according to the summary motion.
Berg said the commission can set restrictions on physicians under investigation, and there are different levels of severity "in response to a perceived need for immediate protection of public." In this case, Berg said, the commission panel felt it was necessary to suspend his license.
The "repetitive nature" of Duggal's "below-standard practices make it impractical for the commission to set restrictions" on Duggal that allow him to practice while Duggal's hearing continued, the motion continued.
The panel met on Tuesday. Berg said Duggal's attorney was informed the panel was convened to review an emergency summary action.
"We don't have a comment at this time," Duggal's attorney, Carol Sue Janes, said Wednesday before hanging up. No one answered at Duggal's clinic, and a sign on the office door Wednesday said "Personal emergency office is closed for the week," with the word "day" crossed out.
Duggal has 20 days to respond to the amended statement; he denied all the original charges in February.
Disciplinary actions that may be taken include fines, counseling, practice limitations, and license suspension or revocation.
Berg said Duggal also has a right to request a "show cause" hearing, where his attorney would challenge the summary order that suspended his license.
After Duggal files his newest statement, the health law judge will review the case and decide if the hearing needs to be rescheduled. Before the amended statement was filed, the judge had set the hearing for Aug. 19-23.
Berg said three other complaints against Duggal are still under review by the medical commission: one was reviewed and the commission made a tentative decision that violations occurred, but the timing of that review did not allow it to be included in the amended statement; the Attorney's General office determines whether to amend the statement a second time. Two other cases have been investigated but not reviewed.
The Department of Health is advising Duggal's patients to find another doctor if they need ongoing care. Berg said the department is working with local physicians and area hospitals to help them with the "collateral impact of Dr. Duggal's suspension."
"The Department of Health will do everything it can to get information out to the public as soon as it is available about these issues," Berg said.