Court Tells Doctor to Halt Practice Pending State Hearing

Times Staff Writer

In a rare emergency move, an Orange County Superior Court commissioner ordered a Huntington Beach doctor Wednesday to stop practicing medicine pending a hearing in two weeks on whether his alleged drug and alcohol habit poses a danger to the public.

Under the order by Commissioner Eleanor M. Palk, Dr. Jerry Neil Rand, 41, director of the Medical Care Center in Huntington Beach, is prohibited from practicing medicine until a May 5 hearing on whether to extend the temporary order.

The state attorney general's office, representing the California Board of Medical Quality Assurance, requested the emergency action after incidents of alleged drug and alcohol use by the doctor, who is a general practitioner.

Normally, the attorney general's office files an accusation against a doctor on behalf of the medical board and a hearing is scheduled to review the charges. In Rand's case, an emergency order was sought pending the filing of an accusation against him.

The most recent incident occurred April 12, when a young woman, Jenny Encisco, with two small children in tow, bolted out of Rand's inner office into the waiting room and told a state medical board investigator who happened to be sitting there that the doctor was drunk and that she was afraid to let him treat her daughter, according to court records filed Wednesday by the attorney general's office.

Encisco told investigator Kathy Schmidt that she had taken her small daughter to be examined by Rand for a possible ear infection, according to court records.

After she described her daughter's complaints of crying, fever and an earache to Rand--who, she said, walked into the office "wobbly" and appeared as if he had just gotten out of bed--he replied, "When is her surgery?" according to the documents.

Encisco also said that Rand's speech was slurred, that he could not stand straight and that his eyes were red and crossed. Rand later told her that he would write a prescription for penicillin, but Encisco said the doctor could not physically write the prescription, according to documents filed in the case.

She said he then told her, " 'Oh, well, give her some Tylenol.' "

After Encisco ran from his office, Rand was overheard by two other patients telling his staff: "I'm going out the back door, I don't care what you tell them," court documents said.

Rand could not be found by investigator Schmidt when searched the office for him.

In court papers, Schmidt said she had gone to Rand's office that day to serve him notice that Board of Medical Quality Assurance was compelling him to undergo a psychiatric examination for a "major depressive disorder," as well as drug abuse.

On Nov. 21, Costa Mesa police arrested Rand at his home for misdemeanor possession of controlled substances for his personal use. The police report indicated that officers were called after Rand became "assaultive" with his live-in girlfriend.

Police confiscated five separate kinds of prescription drugs at his home. Rand was released on $10,000 bond and, according to his attorney, Richard Lee Karch, the misdemeanor charges were dropped by the district attorney's office.

On Nov. 25, court records show, Rand was admitted to UCI Medical Center for treatment of major depression, drug abuse and a personality disorder.

Rand has a history of sporadic psychiatric treatment and chronic prescription drug abuse, documents filed by the attorney general's office said. The records also showed that Rand checked himself out of the hospital Nov. 30, although Schmidt said her investigation found that his mood had not improved.

Also, in 1986, his staff privileges were suspended from Humana Hospital, Huntington Beach, Schmidt said in her sworn statement.

Schmidt said Humana Hospital's management had expressed concern regarding the quality of medical care Rand provided. Rand later asked the hospital to place him on medical leave, which managers did. To date, she said, Rand has not formally requested a return to the medical staff.

Behavior Common Knowledge

Former employees at Rand's clinic told Schmidt that his "abnormal behavior" was common knowledge.

In fact, Schmidt said in her statement, four of his physician's assistants approached Rand in October and told him he would have to resolve his problem or they would quit.

Rand signed himself into a hospital in Long Beach to "dry out," Schmidt also said in her statement.

Rand's patients continued to be seen by physician's assistants, Schmidt said. One of them, Steven Joseph Martin, 30, of Fountain Valley, was charged in December with the misdemeanor crime of impersonating a doctor. Martin's case is pending.

When Rand got out of the Long Beach hospital, Schmidt said, the clinic's staff told her that he was worse than before.

"He was not coherent, didn't make sense, fidgeted and was 'supercharged,' " Schmidt said in her statement. "The staff tried to keep him from seeing patients."

Schmidt interviewed Rand on Dec. 23 regarding his Nov. 21 arrest. He told her that he had no recollection of the event, she said in her statement.

Denied Abusing Drugs

He also said he took drugs for back problems but was not addicted to them, nor did he abuse drugs, Schmidt said.

Rand was told about the state medical board's diversion program for impaired physicians and advised to contact the division immediately if he felt impaired and wanted help, Schmidt's statement said.

Rand did attend a meeting of the diversion program Dec. 28 but refused to commit himself to the program's suggestions and later refused to participate in even a minimal intake program, Schmidt said.

The director of the diversion program said Rand appeared to be on a "suicidal bandwagon" and should be hospitalized for detoxification immediately.

At Wednesday's hearing, Deputy Atty. Gen. Susan Fitzgerald argued that Rand's continued apparent drug use poses a public danger if he continues practicing medicine.

"The doctor is completely incompetent," Fitzgerald said. "This man's going to have to hit bottom before he has any hope of getting better."

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