MEMPHIS, TN - You may remember the Memphis dentist whose deplorably dirty practice created a health scare for thousands of patients this summer. That crisis prompted The Local I-Team to ask what trouble other doctors may be causing in the Mid-South.
Documents from the Tennessee Board of Dentistry and Medical Examiners cite several doctors in upscale areas like Germantown and Bartlett for violating state law. One doctor still works in a prominent Mid-South hospital.
Topping our list of Mid-South medical missteps is a dentist whose south Memphis practice was so unsanitary the health department warned patients to get tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and C.
"This is ridiculous. I don't believe how long has he been over here," said Neiki Cannon, a former dental patient.
Investigators found Dr. Alfred Brown left "dentures on the counter top" and "bloody gauze on the floor," according to a Tennessee Department of Health Report.
"It's very disconcerting to me that another provider may not have used what we would view as appropriate and standard hygienic practices," said Dr. Alisa Haushalter. Dr. Haushalter works for the Shelby County Health Department.
Officials from the Tennessee Board of Dentistry permanently revoked Brown's medical license in October. We went to Brown's home in south Memphis but no one responded.
But this emergency room doctor on the staff of Methodist Hospital did.
"I'm Maria Hallas with Local 24 News are you Dr. Mixon? Mixon: "Yes I am."
Dr. Joseph Mixon admitted in documents from the Board of Medical Examiners that he incorrectly diagnosed three patients in 2015.
The consent order states Mixon misdiagnosed one of those patients as "stable" which resulted in sepsis, an emergency condition that can cause death. Because he admitted the facts in the order, we were surprised at his initial reaction to our questions about the sepsis and other issues but not his refusal to talk.
Dr. Joseph Mixon, works at Methodist Hospital. "No thank you, but I appreciate your coming by."
Mixon's license to practice is now on probation after a drug screen the same day turned up positive for controlled substances and alcohol. That probation requires he remain drug free. A hospital spokesperson tells us he continues to practice at Methodist as a member of the medical staff but not an employee.
We caught up with this third doctor, Venkatachalam Ayyagari, at his Germantown home. Dr. Ayyagari seemed reluctant to tell us about the Board of Medical Examiner's order of probation until we showed it to him.
Maria Hallas, Local I-Team: "Are you on probation?"
Dr. Ayyagari : "No."
Maria Hallas, Local I-Team: "But it says probation for five years?"
Dr. Venkatachalam Ayyagari: "Yes, that is probation, yes."
In a consent order, Dr. Ayyagari admits he violated the law by prescribing controlled substances without checking the controlled substance database for patients and without implementing a drug screening policy for workers at his pain management clinic.
"I didn't know. I was supposed to do it and they said I'm supposed to do it and that's it. It's a very very small thing," he said.
But it did not seem like a small thing to the Department of Health. The consent order for Dr. Ayyagari required that he surrender pain management practice license at his Bartlett Medical Clinic. So we went there to ask follow up questions.
Maria Hallas, Local I-Team: "I was just wondering if you prescribe any medication from here, pain medication."
Dr. Ayyagari: "No, I don't need to answer you at all."
A Tennessee Department of Health spokesperson responded saying Dr. Ayyagari may operate the clinic as long as he provides pain management to a minority of patients.
Dentist Alfred Brown is the only medical professional in the group whose license is permanently revoked. The two other doctors received temporary restrictions and as far as we know are in compliance with them.
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