Medical board suspends Eagle River doctor

Posted: Sunday, October 27, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Alaska State Medical Board has suspended the medical license of an Eagle River family practitioner.

Dr. Samuel Schurig, 51, is accused of hiding narcotics in a trash bin and shed. His license was summarily suspended Thursday.

Schurig has been licensed in Alaska since 1983 and works at Eagle River Primary Care Clinic. This is the board's first disciplinary action against him, according to Division of Occupational Licensing records.

An affidavit signed by Colin Matthews, senior investigator for the division, said Schurig prescribed almost 38,000 narcotics and other pills to one patient since early 1998, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

When Schurig learned that his patient's son was stealing her drugs, Schurig began hiding them in a locked shed outside his office and provided her with the combination to the lock. He also hid the drugs in a trash bin in his office parking lot and under rocks outside her home, according to the affidavit.

The board also discussed concerns over Schurig's mental state. Schurig admitted using office samples of Zoloft, a drug used to treat depression, the affidavit said.

In August, the state medical board had ordered Schurig to undergo medical and psychological evaluations, but the doctor did not do so, board members said Thursday.

''I find it astonishing and incomprehensible that he would refuse to go,'' said Constance Livsey, who made the motion to summarily suspend Schurig's license.

The board voted 6-0 in favor of the suspension. Board members Dr. Martha Cotten and Dr. Irvin Rothrock did not attend the meeting and did not vote.

Thomas Van Flein, Schurig's attorney, said he didn't know about the meeting or the board's action to suspend his client's license.

State statute allows a medical board to summarily, or immediately, suspend a doctor's license without first giving him a hearing if the board rules that allowing him to continue working is a danger to public health.

Thursday's vote was the board's second attempt to remove Schurig's license. It met in August and voted 4-4 to summarily suspend the license; the tie vote meant the motion failed. The board then ordered Schurig to undergo the evaluations.

After learning Thursday that Schurig did not follow through, the board approved the suspension.

Schurig's license will remain suspended until he undergoes evaluations and the board has a chance to review them.

Schurig is the second local doctor of osteopathy to lose his license since August. Dr. Jay Van Houten is the other. An osteopathic doctor takes a holistic approach to medicine but also uses modern medical practices.

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