Surgeon suspended by state fights to get license back

Posted: Wednesday, January 09, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- One month after having his license to practice medicine suspended by the state Dr. Steven Nathanson testified that he treated his patients appropriately and was harmed financially and personally by the state's decision to file accusations against him.

Nathanson testified Tuesday before a hearing officer considering his appeal of the state's action.

The Alaska State Medical Board met Dec. 3 in an emergency hearing and summarily suspended Nathanson's license. The board concluded that Nathanson presented a clear and immediate danger to the public health and safety.

The state Division of Occupational Licensing has been investigating Nathanson since 1997 and filed accusations of professional incompetence against him several times.

During his testimony, Nathanson talked about how the publicity from these accusations harmed his career. The news media were called before he even received the accusations, he said.

''We are alleged and accused and hung out to dry in the media,'' Nathanson said of himself and other doctors under investigation.

He said he believed this publicity led to his loss of medical privileges at local hospitals and prompted lawsuits from patients. He said he lost respect in the community, went through a divorce, had to let his staff go and watched his salary plummet from ''seven figures'' to less than $50,000.

''Ninety percent of my business was wiped out literally the same day it occurred,'' he said. Nathanson said some of that business was lost because he voluntarily stopped performing surgeries mentioned in the accusations.

The state's accusations addressed several procedures, including liposuctions and abdominoplasties, also called tummy tucks. Nathanson, who has worked in Alaska for more than two decades, started his practice with ear, nose and throat work, but has added plastic surgeries and laser procedures.

The three patient complaints discussed at Nathanson's hearing involved laser techniques used to remove hair, tattoos and vascular imperfections.

Hearing officer David Stebing heard closing arguments in the case Tuesday. Stebing said his caseload prevents him from issuing his recommendation for a couple of weeks.

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