Merced doctor accused of ‘gross negligence’ by state Medical Board

rparsons@mercedsun-star.comJanuary 6, 2014 

A Merced cardiologist may face disciplinary action from the California Medical Board, including possibly losing his license, if he’s found responsible for acts of gross and repeated medical negligence, state officials confirmed Monday.

The state Medical Board on Dec. 2 formally accused Dr. Raif Tawakol of misdiagnosing a female patient beginning in September 2011, according to the accusation filed by the California Attorney General’s Office.

“They are looking at the possibility of revoking his license,” said Cassandra Hockenson, a spokeswoman for the Medical Board.

It is at least the third time the 74-year-old physician has been investigated by the Medical Board since 1996, according to documents obtained by the Sun-Star. He was disciplined in 1997 and again in 2006.

Tawakol received his physician’s and surgeon’s certificate in 1983, according to Medical Board records.

Tawakol, who is still practicing medicine in Merced, did not return phone calls. A person who answered the telephone at his office Monday said the doctor had no comment.

According to the most recent accusation, Tawakol “misdiagnosed” a 62-year-old woman in late 2011 and prescribed medications that put her “at risk for severe hypoglycemia, coma and death.” The Medical Board said Tawakol gave her a sample of expired medication, prescribed others “without any medical justification” and failed to “adequately evaluate” the woman’s heart condition.

Hearings have been set for Oct. 24 to discuss possible settlements in the case. If no settlement is reached, a full hearing will be held Dec. 15 before an administrative law judge in Sacramento, according to Medical Board records.

Tawakol was first investigated by the Medical Board in 1996 for performing “inappropriate” medical procedures amounting to “gross negligence” and failing to keep and properly consult basic medical records, according to the accusation.

The settlement states that Tawakol failed to recognize a blood vessel condition suffered by a 58-year-old man who eventually had his left arm amputated and later died from sepsis.

The Medical Board said Tawakol’s failure to recognize and treat the man’s condition “was an extreme departure from the standard of practice ...”

He was placed on probation for five years and required to complete numerous medical courses.

Tawakol was investigated again in 2006 and admitted gross negligence, making false statements in medical records, repeated acts of negligence and failing to maintain adequate records, according to the settlement agreement.

Tawakol was again ordered to serve five years on probation, according to Medical Board records.

Hockenson said she could not comment directly on the current case, but acknowledged that Tawakol’s disciplinary history would be a factor, if he is found culpable in the current case.

“We are very well aware of the prior cases and they would come into play when looking into his license now,” Hockenson said.

Staff writer Rob Parsons can be reached at rparsons@mercedsun-star.com or (209) 385-2482.

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