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State revokes doctor's license

TIMES STAFF WRITER
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OGDENSBURG — A physician who worked at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center and may have worked at Fort Drum had his medical license revoked over charges of gross negligence, incompetence and fraudulently obtaining a medical license.


Fitzgerald A. Hudson worked at the emergency room of Claxton-Hepburn from February to June 2008, and was cited with numerous complaints stemming from his work there. He was fired in June 2008 after a nurse complained that he failed to properly evaluate a patient with chest pains and electrocardiograph changes, according to state Health Department documents.


In May, the department revoked his license. A review board rejected his appeals in a decision last week.


During his tenure at Claxton-Hepburn, Dr. Hudson failed to diagnose life-threatening ailments in two cases, and gave substandard care to seven patients, the Health Department said. Specific details about patients — and the results of the mistreatment — are confidential, Health Department officials said.


Dr. Hudson also is believed to have worked at Fort Drum, but that account could not be verified immediately by a Fort Drum spokeswoman. A news release from Claxton-Hepburn that announced his hiring in 2008 said Dr. Hudson had worked at Fort Drum as an attending physician.


The release also said Dr. Hudson was trained at Warren Hospital in New Jersey. Dr. Hudson was dismissed from that residency in 2003.


A supervisor at that hospital in 2003 cited a "disjointed relationship between his knowledge of the facts and his ability to apply them" and said he was "overwhelmed when he needed to address more than one thing at a time" and "often focused on the wrong thing ... without insight into his own deficiencies," according to an investigation.


A 'SAD' SITUATION


In his 2007 application for a medical license, Dr. Hudson said he had never been dismissed from a medical training program.


Records show that he sometimes skirted rules and lied about his education on applications.


He took nine years to earn medical degrees that typically are completed within four years. He received his degree in 2000, according to state Education Department records, but did not receive his license until 2007.


In revoking Dr. Hudson's license, the state review board said it was "sad that a person who tried for so long to become a physician would lose his license so soon after commencing practice," but the revocation is "appropriate and consistent with the Committee's findings."


Dr. Hudson, who did not earn a bachelor's degree, graduated from Ross University Caribbean Medical School, a for-profit university in the West Indies. For-profit universities in general, and Ross University in particular, have come under increasing government scrutiny. Federal investigators were looking into the quality of the education at Ross University, according to a January report in the St. Petersburg Times. The university accepts students — most of whom are from the United States — with entrance exam scores as low as 17, while most medical schools have an average score of 31, according to that report.


Dr. Hudson was hired by TeamHealth, an outside company that handles Claxton-Hepburn's emergency department, according to hospital spokeswoman Laura C. Shea.


"Even though he was hired by TeamHealth, he still has to go through our accreditation process," Mrs. Shea said. "We're pretty confident in that process, but mistakes can be made, and we use those as learning experiences."


TeamHealth did not respond to a request for comment.


FUTURE NOW IN DOUBT


Dr. Hudson is unlikely to practice medicine again. The board that reviewed his case said his lack of integrity and clinical knowledge could not be counteracted by additional training and supervision.


After working at Claxton-Hepburn, Dr. Hudson applied for jobs at Jones Memorial Hospital, Wellsville, and Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital, Dansville, and lied on those applications, saying that he left Claxton-Hepburn because of the long commute, that he had earned a bachelor's degree from York University, and that he had completed his medical degree in four years, according to state documents.


He was hired in late 2009 at Cuba Memorial Hospital, in Western New York, according to an announcement in the Cuba Chamber of Commerce newsletter. A person who answered the phone at that hospital, though, said Mr. Hudson no longer works there.


A search for his phone number in areas where he is believed to have lived returned no active numbers.


Medical license revocations are relatively rare. In 2008, the Health Department revoked 39 licenses in the state, according to spokesman Jeffrey W. Hammond.


Dr. Hudson appealed his revocation, saying that the infractions occurred over a short period and that he no longer was involved in emergency medicine. He sent a letter of appeal to support his case to the review board.


But the board didn't consider it, according to state documents: By the time he sent it, past the deadline, the review board already had deliberated.

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