Bremerton doctor being investigated

The medical commission is investigating the care given to patients in Hansville Road crash

This story corrects the headline printed in the Aug. 15 issue of the North Kitsap Herald, page A1, that identifies the person being investigated as a surgeon. He is a doctor, with a license to practice as a physician and surgeon, according to the State of Washington Department of Health Medical Quality Assurance Commission.

BREMERTON — A doctor is being investigated for allegedly failing to properly diagnose patients.

The state Department of Health’s Medical Quality Assurance Commission found enough evidence to take action against Scott T. Ekin’s license to practice, according a statement of charges from the commission. The charges relate to a 2011 incident when Ekin was working in the emergency room at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton.

Ekin has the chance to defend against allegations that the care of a patient involved in a 2012 car crash on Hansville Road was “below the standard of care required of an emergency room physician,” according to the statement of charges.

Ekin is denying the allegations against him, Health Department spokesman Marquise Allen said.

Ekin did not respond to an email request for an interview. Harrison Medical Center did not return calls or an email inquiry regarding Ekin.

Medical records of four other patients obtained by the commission show medical surveys taken by Ekin to be nearly identical to the person in the Hansville crash, except “one note in each,” according to the statement of charges.

“Medical records … indicate use of templates that do not reflect meaningful documentation,” the statement of charges reads. In the case of one patient, Ekin’s documentation contradicted the findings of imaging, according to the statement of charges.

The investigation of Ekin follows a complaint made to the Department of Health & Services by Joseph and Debra Snowden of Seattle in 2012.

The Snowdens were taken to Harrison Medical Center after a car crash on Hansville Road Dec. 30, 2011. After being treated at Harrison, Debra Snowden had to have an emergency operation four days later because she was bleeding internally and had four broken ribs and a fractured sternum. Joseph Snowden had a smashed right foot, which was not recognized, he said. He later had reconstructive surgery.

Ekin failed to recognize the severity of trauma in Debra Snowden, failed to do a thorough history and exam and failed to order adequate studies for a patient involved in a high-speed vehicle collision, according to the commission, according to the statement of charges. Ekin’s documentation of the history and exam was superficial and left out important and critical details, according to the statement of charges.

“Discrepancies in [Ekin’s] charting raise serious concerns about the veracity of his exam findings,” the statement of charges reads.

Because of the allegations, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services investigated Harrison. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found the hospital failed to enforce policies to ensure compliance with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act and failed to provide an appropriate medical screening examination, the North Kitsap Herald reported.

The hospital faced termination of its participation in Medicare, but its plan of correction was accepted later in the year.

A settlement conference with Ekin will be scheduled, with the possibility of a formal hearing, according to Allen. A formal hearing will be scheduled if the assurance commission and Ekin do not come to an agreement. An agreement can be reached in many ways; for example, requiring Ekin take additional medical training and education, or being placed on probation with monitoring, Allen said. There’s a wide variety of ways to reach agreement, Allen said.

“Its kind of early to say [what will happen], this is early in the game,” Allen said. “A lot of things could happen.”

This is not the first investigation into Ekin’s medical practice. Ekin was monitored by the commission for at least two years after failing “to adequately assess the degree of injury to [a patient’s] right knee and failed to adequately treat [the patient’s] pain,” according to a case document from the commission. The patient’s discharge instructions were found to be pre-printed and not customized, according to the document. A prescription for percocet was deemed to be inappropriate for the patient, who required 6 milligrams of Dilaudid and 10 milligrams of Morphine in the emergency room.

The patient was taken to St. Joseph Medical Center’s emergency room where he was diagnosed with knee dislocation, multiple ligament tears and fracture of the tibia and fibula with peroneal palsy.