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long-running battle between the Texas Medical Board and controversial Houston doctor Stanislaw Burzynski could be coming to a head.

The board’s staff said this week that it had proposed $380,000 in fines and a stiff set of sanctions for Burzynski’s failure to adhere to proper medical procedures in treating cancer patients. The decision is preliminary, and will be submitted and formally reviewed on March 3.

The recommendations formally called for the revocation of Burzynski’s license, but the board’s staff then recommended suspending that sanction, pending a probationary period of at least four years, during which the physician’s work would undergo strict monitoring.

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Burzynski declined comment, but his lawyer, Melanie Rubinsky, said the physician would submit his own proposed ruling in advance of the March 3 board meeting. “The proposed order is not final until the full board signs off on it,” she said. “It’s not a done deal.”

Under Texas law, even if the board adopts the staff recommendations, Rubinsky said Burzynski could pursue a court appeal.

In the board’s filings last summer, it accused Burzynski of unethical and unprofessional conduct regarding clinical trials of gravely ill patients. Those charges included improper care, deceptive advertising, and the use of unlicensed staff, among others.

In the findings of fact issued Wednesday, the board’s staff quoted findings of fact issued by the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings, which found insufficient evidence of deceptive advertising. However, it found, among other violations, that Burzynski in at least one case failed to follow the treatment protocol to which a patient initially consented, and that one of Burzynski’s clinicians misrepresented herself as being authorized to practice medicine.

Elsewhere in the findings of fact, the Office of Administrative Hearings found that there was insufficient evidence to suggest patients suffered harm as a result of the violations.

“Respondent’s continued practice in treating advanced cancer patients is a present value to the cancer community,” it read. “Respondent’s treatments have saved the lives of cancer patients, both adults and children, who were not expected to live.”

In addition to the recommended fines, the board’s staff proposed ordering Burzynski to submit all patient-consent forms to the Board’s medical director for review, and complete a course in ethics.

 

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed findings of fact to the Texas Medical Board. The findings of fact were issued by the State Office of Administrative Hearings, and were incorporated into the board staff’s proposed decision, along with the board staff’s proposed sanctions.

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