FAIRBANKS — Alaska’s high court has struck down the State Medical Board’s medical license revocation for a Fairbanks doctor who specializes in anti-aging and weight loss treatment.
In what had been the state’s first medical license revocation since 2009, Alaska’s medical board revoked Dr. David Odom’s medical license in 2014. The board pulled Odom’s license after concluding he prescribed drugs inappropriately to his patient Sonja Carlson Quebbemann in 2007. Quebbemann died from heart failure about six months after last seeing Odom, but the state investigators didn’t directly accuse Odom’s treatment of causing her death.
In a 27-page opinion, the court’s five justices stated the Medical Board treated Odom’s case incorrectly, both in the process the board used to pull his license and in the substance of the board’s conclusion that Odom’s treatment didn’t meet professional standards.
“The Medical Board’s decisional document is legally insufficient not only with regard to its choice of sanction, but also in its conclusion that Dr. Odom acted incompetently,” the court stated in an opinion written by Justice Peter Maassen.
Odom, 74, has been practicing medicine in Palm Springs, California since he lost his license to practice in Alaska. Odom said in an interview Friday that he believes the action to take his license was an act of retribution by Banner Health, the nonprofit organization that previously operated Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and the Tanana Valley Clinic. Between 1993 and 2003, Odom fought a legal battle with the hospital over his interest in opening a surgery center in Fairbanks.
“In my mind, Banner knew because their agent is the one who pursued my license and they gave a license to their own employee so basically he could take over my practice,” he said.
Odom said he’d like to come to split his time between California and Alaska practices now that he can practice in Alaska again.
The case against Odom was based on his prescription of two drugs for weight loss and hormone treatment: the stimulant phentermine, and thyroid hormone drug Armour Thyroid. State investigators at the Alaska Division of Corporate, Business and Professional Licensing said Odom prescribed too large of a dose of Armour Thyroid and should not have prescribed phentermine because his patient had cardiomyopathy, a heart condition.
The first judge to hear the case sided with Odom. Administrative Law Judge Andrew Hemenway concluded in 2014 that the state failed to prove Odom’s treatment was below the required standard of care.
However, the Medical Board — which is made up of five physicians, one physician’s assistant and two members of the public — chose to revoke Odom’s license after a meeting in closed-door executive session in June 2014.
In their opinion, the Supreme Court justices stated that revoking Odom’s license was too strong a sanction. License revocations are usually caused by offenses like criminal convictions or medical license revocations in other states, the opinion states. In their decision to revoke Odom’s license, the State Medical Board went beyond the recommendations of Division of Corporate, Business and Professional Licensing investigators who had suggested a suspension or fine.
In addition, the Medical Board failed to produce a written explanation for its actions as the law requires, the opinion states.
Contact Outdoors Editor Sam Friedman at 459-7545. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.