Disciplinary Actions against
Janet McBarron, M.D.

Stephen Barrett, M.D.


In 1999, Georgia's Composite State Board of Medical Examiners charged Janet McBarron, M.D., with providing substandard care to an overweight patient and other unprofessional conduct during television broadcasts. As noted below, the board asserted:

The case was settled with a consent order under which McBarron admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to (a) serve on probation indefinitely, pay a $5,000 fine, (c) provide the board with samples of her record-keeping system, (d) take additional continuing medical education courses in record-keeping and medical diagnosis in the practice of bariatrics, (e) undergo record reviews as requested, and (f) refrain from the improper practices described in the board's complaint. McBarron's probation was terminated in 13 months after the consent order was issued.

In 2001, the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners reprimanded McBarron and fined her $10,000 for failing to report Georgia's disciplinary action when she renewed her Alabama license. In 2002, the South Carolina State Board of Medical Examiners reprimanded her and fined her $5,000.

McBarron's Web site states that for many years she has specialized in weight control (bariatrics), doing business as Georgia Bariatrics in Columbus, Georgia. In December 2017, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that (a) she was prescribing the appetite suppressant phenteramine to people based only on answers to an online questionnaire, (b) a former employee stated that her online sale of the drug began about ten years ago and that many of the orders came from U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan and elsewhere who "wanted to make weight." Such sales appears to violate the Georgia consent order.


BEFORE THE OFFICE OF STATE ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS
STATE OF GEORGIA

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE,
Composite State Board of Medical Examiners,

Petitioner,

vs.

JANET McBARRON, M.D.,
License No. 28300

Respondent.

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DOCKET NO.:
OSAH-SEB-MED-9905314-106-VTR

FIRST AMENDMENT TO MATTERS ASSERTED
AND STATUTES AND RULES INVOLVED

1.

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-13-13 and Rule 616-1-2-.08 of the Office of State Administrative Hearings, the Composite State Board of Medical Examiners ("the Board") hereby provides Respondent with its First Amendment to Matters Asserted and the Statutes and Rules Involved by deleting its initial Matters Asserted and the Statutes and Rules Involved and replacing it as follows:

MATTERS ASSERTED

l.

Respondent is licensed to practice as a physician in the State of Georgia and was so licensed at all times relevant to the matters asserted herein.

2.

From March 1993 through October 1993, Respondent was responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of patient M.B., who complained of obesity. Respondent's diagnosis, treatment and record of treatment failed to conform to the minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice.

(a) Respondent dispensed an indeterminable dosage of Synthroid or other thyroid hormone, a dangerous drug, without clear laboratory and/or clinical evidence of hypothyroidism.

(b) Respondent dispensed a thyroid hormone as treatment for obesity contrary to generally accepted and approved indications, without proper precaution to avoid adverse effects.

(c) Respondent administered injections and dispensed drugs of indeterminable type, dosage and frequency, without proper precaution to avoid adverse effects.

(d) Respondent dispensed such drugs in the absence of medical justification.

3.

In connection with the conduct described in paragraph 2 above, Respondent failed to maintain records adequate to furnish documentary evidence of the course of the patient's medical diagnosis, treatment and response to treatment. Specifically, the records show no evidence of physical examination, review of medical history, clinical and/or laboratory evidence of hypothyroidism, informing the patient of the risks and benefits of treatment with thyroid hormones, and specification of the type, dosage and frequency of medications administered during the course of treatment.

4.

As a result of the conduct described in paragraphs 2 and 3 above, Respondent placed M.B. at risk of hyperthyroidism, which M.B. in fact suffered within three (3) months of terminating treatment with Respondent and had to undergo a total thyroidectomy.

5.

Respondent co-hosted television broadcasts, "Rise-N-Shine" and "Duke and the Doctor," focused on the use of holistic and alternative medicines. During broadcasts in 1997 and 1998, Respondent failed to conform to the minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice by diagnosing callers unknown to her and recommending unproven herbal or other natural remedies based on the symptoms these callers described over the telephone, including, but not limited to:

(a) During a broadcast of "Duke and the Doctor," date unknown, Respondent recommended that a caller, name unknown, who complained of manic-depressive illness and anxiety attacks and was on Lithium and Mellaril, take two (2) different herbal remedies for her anxiety attacks, a herbal formula for her depression, a multivitamin, a protein and a herbal remedy for her kidneys. Although Respondent advised the caller not to stop the medications prescribed by her doctor suddenly, she suggested these herbal remedies as a supplement to and, eventually, a replacement for such medications. (Videotape of "Duke and the Doctor," Part I, 04:40-08:901)

1Denotes the tape counter number of the vignette on videotapes disclosed to Respondent on May 24, 1999.

(b) During a broadcast of "Duke and the Doctor," date unknown, Respondent recommended that a caller, name unknown, who complained of high cholesterol and a history of bypass surgery, not to take the Lescol recommended by her doctor and, instead, use a herbal program to reduce cholesterol. (Videotape of "Duke and the Doctor," Part I, 11:55-13:85.)

(c) During a broadcast of "Rise-N-Shine," on or about October 2, 1997, Respondent recommended that a caller, name unknown, who complained of a nervous stomach and spastic colon, take vitamins and four other supplements, including digestive enzymes. (Videotape of "Rise-N-Shine," dated October 2, 1997, 06:71-09:39.)

(d) During a broadcast of "Rise-N-Shine," on or about October 2, 1997, Respondent recommended that a caller, name unknown, who complained of leakage from a breast cyst, take herbal remedies. (Videotape of "Rise-N-Shine," dated October 2, 1997, 29:00-30:96.)

(e) During a broadcast of "Rise-N-Shine," on or about October 1997, Respondent recommended that a caller, name unknown, whose husband had a history of a heart attack and heart surgery and complained of high blood pressure, give the husband an antianxiety herbal remedy before his doctor visits in order to lower his blood pressure. (Videotape of "Rise-N-Shine," dated October 2, 1997, 36:92-38: 10.)

(f) During a broadcast of "Rise-N-Shine," on or about December 18, 1997, Respondent recommended that two (2) different callers, names unknown, who complained of diabetes, take "GTF", a mineral supplement. (Videotape of "Rise-N-Shine," dated December 18, 1997, 16:60-19:15; 27:75-29:26.)

(g) During a broadcast of "Rise-N-Shine," on or about January 8, 1998, Respondent recommended that a caller, name unknown, who complained of burning in her breasts, take herbal remedies to build up her immune system while waiting to see her doctor. Respondent stated she could not diagnose the problem, but stated it "sounds like mastitis." (Videotape of "Rise-N-Shine," dated January 8, 1998, 07:45-09:20.)

(h) During a broadcast of "Rise-N-Shine," on or about January 8, 1998, Respondent recommended that a caller, name unknown, who complained of gallstones and whose doctor had recommended surgery, take digestive enzymes to dissolve the gallstones. (Videotape of "Rise-N-Shine," dated January 8, 1998, 30:70-33:30.)

6.

During broadcasts of "Rise-N-Shine," on or about October 2, 1997, and "Duke and the Doctor," dates unknown, Respondent advertised for or solicited patients by offering gifts, prizes and free treatment at her private practice, and free treatment at her husband's health food store. (Videotape of "Rise-N-Shine," dated October 2, 1997, 22:00-22:84; Videotape of "Duke and the Doctor," Part I, 47:20-48:85.)

7.

During a broadcast of "Rise-N-Shine" on or about December 18, 1997, Respondent made extravagant claims concerning her professional excellence by telling viewers that, if they stayed with her weight loss program, they would never gain weight again. (Videotape of "Rise-N-Shine," dated December 18, 1997, 24:76-25:56.)

8.

On or about 1997 to I 998, Respondent mailed a "We miss you!" letter to former patient W.F., who Respondent had not treated in approximately two (2) years, advising her that she could obtain appetite suppressants from Respondent's staff without being examined by Respondent. (See "We miss you!" letter, a true and correct copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit "A").

7.

In connection with the conduct described in paragraph 8 above, Respondent failed to conform to the minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice by soliciting a former patient and offering to dispense controlled substances without medical examination.

STATUTES AND RULES INVOLVED

Sanction of Respondent's license is sought pursuant to the following provisions of O.C.G.A. § 43-1-19:

(a) A state examining board shall have the authority to refuse to grant a license to an applicant therefor or to revoke the license of a person licensed by that Board or to discipline a person licensed by that Board, upon a finding by a majority of the entire Board that the licensee or applicant has:

(2) Knowingly made misleading, deceptive, untrue, or fraudulent representations in the practice of a business or profession licensed under this title or in any document connected therewith; or practiced fraud or deceit or intentionally made any false statements in obtaining a license to practice the licensed business or profession; or made a false or deceptive biennial registration with the board;

(6) Engaged in any unprofessional, immoral, unethical, deceptive, or deleterious conduct or practice harmful to the public, which conduct or practice materially affects the fitness of the licensee or applicant to practice a business or profession licensed under this title, or of a nature likely to jeopardize the interest of the public, which conduct or practice need not have resulted in actual injury to any person or be directly related to the practice of the licensed business or profession but shows that the licensee or applicant has committed any act or omission which is indicative of bad moral character or untrustworthiness; unprofessional conduct shall also include any departure from, or the failure to conform to, the minimal reasonable standards of acceptable and prevailing practice of the business or profession licensed under this title;

(8) Violated a statute, law, or any rule or regulation of this state, any other state, the state examining board regulating the business or profession licensed under this title, the United States, or any other lawful authority (without regard to whether the violation is criminally punishable), which statute, law, or rule or regulation relates to or in part regulates the practice of a business or profession licensed under this title, when the licensee or applicant knows or should know that such action is violative of such statute, law, or rule; or violated a lawful order of the Board previously entered by the Board in a disciplinary hearing, consent decree, or license reinstatement;

(d) When a state examining board finds that any person is unqualified to be granted a license or finds that any person should be disciplined pursuant to subsection (a) of this Code section or the laws, rules, or regulations relating to the business or profession licensed by the board, the board may take any one or more of the following actions:

(1) Refuse to grant or renew a license to an applicant;

(2) Administer a public or private reprimand, but a private reprimand shall not be disclosed to any person except the licensee;

(3) Suspend any license for a definite period or for an indefinite period in connection with any condition which may be attached to the restoration of said license;

(4) Limit or restrict any license as the board deems necessary for the protection of the public;

(5) Revoke any license;

(6) Condition the penalty upon, or withhold formal disposition pending, the applicant's or licensee's submission to such care, counseling, or treatment as the board may direct;

(7) Impose a fine not to exceed $500.00 for each violation of a law, rule, or regulation relating to the licensed business or profession; or

(8) Impose on a licensee or applicant fees or charges in an amount necessary to reimburse an examining board for the administrative and legal costs incurred by the board in conducting an investigative or disciplinary proceeding.

(e) In addition to and in conjunction with the actions described in subsection (d) of this Code section, a state examining board may make a finding adverse to the licensee or applicant but withhold imposition of judgment and penalty; or it may impose the judgment and penalty but suspend enforcement thereof and place the licensee on probation, which probation may be vacated upon noncompliance with such reasonable terms as the board may impose.

Sanction of the Respondent's license is sought pursuant to the following provisions of O.C.G.A. § 43-34-37:

(a) The Board shall have authority to refuse to grant a license to an applicant or to discipline a physician licensed under this chapter or any antecedent law upon a finding by the Board that the licensee or applicant has:

(2) Knowingly made misleading, deceptive, untrue, or fraudulent representations in the practice of medicine or in any document connected therewith, or practiced fraud or deceit or intentionally made any false statements in obtaining a license to practice medicine, or made a false or deceptive biennial registration with the board;

(6) Advertised for or solicited patients; obtained a fee or other thing of value on the representation that a manifestly incurable disease can be permanently cured; or made untruthful or improbable statements, or flamboyant or extravagant claims concerning his professional excellence;

(7) Engaged in any unprofessional, unethical, deceptive, or deleterious conduct or practice harmful to the public, which conduct or practice need not have resulted in actual injury to any person. As used in this paragraph, the term "unprofessional conduct" shall include any departure from, or failure to conform to, the minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice and shall also include, but not be limited to, the prescribing or use or drugs, treatment, or diagnostic procedures which are detrimental to the patient as determined by the minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice or by rule of the Board;

(10) Violated or attempted to violate a law, rule, or regulation of this state, any other state, the Board, the United States, or any other lawful authority without regard to whether the violation is criminally punishable, which law, rule, or regulation relates to or in part regulates the practice of medicine, when the licensee or applicant knows or should know that such action is violative of such law, rule, or regulation; or violated a lawful order of the Board, previously entered by the Board in a disciplinary hearing;

(b) (1) When the board finds that any person is unqualified to be granted a license or finds that any person should be disciplined pursuant to subsection (a) of this Code section, the board may take any one or more of the following actions:

(A) Refuse to grant a license to an applicant;

(B) Administer a public or private reprimand, provided that a private reprimand shall not be disclosed to any person except the licensee;

(C) Suspend any license for a definite period;

(D) Limit or restrict any license;

(E) Revoke any license; or

(F) Condition the penalty, or withhold formal disposition, upon the physician's submission to the care, counseling, or treatment of physicians or other professional persons, and the completion of such care, counseling, or treatment, as directed by the board.

(2) In addition to and in conjunction with the actions enumerated pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection, the board may make a finding adverse to the licensee or applicant but withhold imposition of judgement and penalty; or it may impose the judgement and penalty but suspend enforcement thereof and place the physician on probation, which probation may be vacated upon noncompliance with such reasonable terms as the board may impose.

(c) In its discretion, the Board may restore and reissue a license to practice medicine issued under this chapter or any antecedent law and, as a condition thereof, may impose any disciplinary or corrective measure provided in this chapter.

Sanction of the Respondent's license is sought pursuant to the following provisions of Rule 360-2-.09 of the Rules of the Composite State Board of Medical Examiners:

Unprofessional Conduct Defined. Amended. The Board has the authority to refuse to grant a license to an applicant, or to discipline a physician licensed in Georgia if that physician has engaged in unprofessional conduct. For the purpose of the implementation and enforcement of this rule, unprofessional conduct is defined as, but not limited to, participating in or aiding the following:

(f) Any departure from, or the failure to conform to the minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice. Guidelines to be used by the Board in defining such standards may include, but are not restricted to:

1. Diagnosis. Evaluation of a medical problem using means such as history, physical examination, laboratory and radiographic studies, when applicable.

2. Treatment. Use of medications and other modalities based on generally accepted and approved indications, with proper precautions to avoid adverse physical reactions, habituation or addiction.

3. Records. Maintenance of records to furnish documentary evidence of the course of the patient's medical evaluation, treatment and response.

(k) Violating statutes and rules relating to or regulating the practice of medicine including but not limited to the following:

  1. The Georgia Medical Practices Act (O.C.G.A. T. 43, Ch. 34);
  2. The Georgia Controlled Substances Act (O.C.G.A. T. 16, Ch. 13, Art. 2);
  3. The Georgia Dangerous Drug Act (O.C.G.A. T. 16, Ch. 13, Art. 3);
  4. The Federal Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C.A. Chapter 13);
  5. Rules of the Composite State Board of Medical Examiners, Ch. 360. Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia, particularly Rule 360-2-.09;
  6. Rules of the Georgia State Board of Pharmacy, Ch. 480, Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia, in particular those relating to the prescribing and dispensing of drugs, Chapter 480-28;
  7. Code of Federal Regulations Relating to Controlled Substances (21 C.F.R. Par. 1306);
  8. O.C.G.A. § 31-9-6.1 (1988) and Board Rules Chapter 360-14 relating to informed consent.

Respectfully submitted, this 9th day of July, 1999.

BOOKER, RAMSEY & ANDREWS
A Professional Corporation

By: ___________________
Stephen C. Andrews
Georgia Bar No. 019650
Special Assistant Attorney General
For the Composite State Board of
Medical Examiners

1800 Peachtree Street, N.W.
Suite 615
Atlanta, Georgia 30309
404-351-1615

This page was posted on January 29, 2018

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