State hearing officer supports doctor's suspension

Posted: Friday, November 08, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A state hearing officer has recommended that the license of an Anchorage doctor remain suspended, citing sufficient evidence that Dr. Jay Van Houten ''violated the medical standard of care.''

''He did not meet his responsibility with regard to prescribing controlled substances,'' wrote hearing officer David Stebing in the decision handed down Thursday.

Stebing said there was both a preponderance of evidence and clear and convincing evidence that Van Houten poses a danger to the public safety.

A preponderance of evidence means a more than 50 percent chance that the evidence is true. This is the burden of proof required for administrative hearings like Van Houten's, said Gary Veres, chief investigator for the state Division of Occupational Licensing. Clear and convincing evidence is a higher burden of proof.

The state medical board suspended Van Houten's license Aug. 28 without giving him a hearing. Van Houten has been licensed in Alaska since 1992.

The state licensing division started hearing patient complaints about inadequate care in 1999. Medications prescribed by Van Houten allegedly led to the deaths of two patients, Stebing's decision said.

The case reached Stebing when Van Houten and his lawyer, Paul Stockler, contested the suspension.

Stebing's recommendation to uphold the suspension is not the final decision. Board members will meet via teleconference Tuesday to accept or reject the recommendation, said Leslie Gallant, executive administrator for the board. If they approve it, Van Houten's license will remain suspended pending a final administrative hearing examining the board's accusations. No date is set for that hearing, Veres said.

Stockler said that if the board backs Stebing's recommendation, Van Houten will appeal to the Superior Court.

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