Once named one of ‘America’s Most Beautiful Physicians’, a New York doctor is now being hauled into court by former patients who say they lost his medical records and over-prescribed powerful pain medications, among several other allegations. Reported by NBC New York, cardiovascular surgeon David Gruener has recently come under scrutiny by government regulators and patients who describe less-than-competent experiences with the media-darling doctor. Despite allegations of overprescribing opioid medications, the doctor’s record is currently unblemished. The lawsuits against the doctor will likely change his spotless record soon, though.
The allegations against the doctor began surfacing when one of his former patients blamed him for an opioid addiction that became a $7,000-per-day habit. According to the patient, Dr. Gruener prescribed hundreds of Demerol shots and other opioids during 2011 and 2012. The surgeon prescribed all of this medication despite “clear signs of addiction” in, what the patient is alleging, a “clearly fraudulent scheme” to keep him addicted and the income flowing freely to his doctor. In the course of litigating his lawsuit against the doctor, the patient sought his own personal medical records. Unfortunately, the doctor could not produce these medical records, along with those of any other patients before 2012.
Dr. Gruener states that he kept all of his patients’ private medical records on a personal hard drive in his Roslyn Heights home. This personal hard drive was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy and, consequently, all of his patients’ medical records have been destroyed. Judge Schlomo Hagler chastised the doctor for keeping the private, sensitive health information of his patients stowed away in a residential garage. According to the local news state, Judge Hagler said, “It strikes me that the obligation of Dr. Gruener is more than just giving it to a friend to store in a garage, that sounds like it’s negligent. There was a negligent storage of the documents that were required to be stored for six years under the education law.”
The team at NBC New York reached out to New York’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) who said it was not acceptable to store patient records on a personal hard drive in the garage. The OPMC, which is responsible for licensing and censuring doctors across the state, said it would launch an investigation into the doctor’s conduct to determine whether any sanctions would be appropriate. For his part, the doctor says that he was not negligent in storing the sensitive information and could not have anticipated an “act of God.” Dr. Gruener also notes that the OPMC was alerted of the allegations more than a year ago and has not chosen to sanction him, yet.
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