Mayor under investigation
Socorro Mayor Dr. Ravi Bhasker is under scrutiny by the New Mexico Medical Board, a state agency responsible for evaluating complaints against medical doctors for violations of the Medical Practice Act.
Bhasker said he received a letter from the Board last fall saying it had received anonymous complaints containing allegations that he’s inappropriately prescribed pain medication. The complaints prompted investigators to check into the prescriptions for controlled substances entered under Bhasker’s medical license in the state’s mandatory tracking system.
“They say my history of narcotics prescription writing is enough for them to look into it,” Bhasker said Friday.
The specific concern expressed in the Board’s letter was that Bhasker appeared to be writing “frequent and regular narcotic prescriptions to what appears to be multiple family members.”
The notification from the board included a subpoena for 13 medical records, 11 from patients living in Alamo.
“They made the implicit decision that these people are related, but there are many people living out there who have similar names who are not family members,” Bhasker said.
Bhasker was given until Sept. 30, 2011, to provide the requested information, and was told that he would be informed in writing what licensure action, if any, would be taken. He said he has received no determination from the board, written or otherwise, on the outcome of the investigation, and hasn’t been given any indication of when he’ll find out anything.
“It’s an unresolved issue,” Bhasker said. “I haven’t heard from them.”
NM Medical Board Senior Investigator Debbie Dieterich, whose signature is on the letter Bhasker received last September, did not respond to phone messages left Friday by El Defensor Chieftain before press time.
Bhasker said he’d like to have his due process before being thrust into a media spotlight over this. However, he said he believes the letter, which should have been confidential, may have been made available to a television reporter by a disgruntled former employee.
Bhasker said he’s being questioned by the media about his relationship with Jerome Block Jr. Block is a former Public Regulations commissioner who pleaded guilty last year to felony charges in connection with his public office and is currently awaiting sentencing for failing to complete a court-supervised drug treatment program.
“They asked if Jerome Block Jr. brought patients to me to get pain medication,” Bhasker said. “I said, ‘No, what are you talking about?’”
Bhasker said he has treated a patient brought to him by Block, but not for pain, and said he has patients from all over the state because of his political connections and because he’s easy to get in to see.
Bhasker also defended his practices with regard to prescribing controlled substances.
“In my mind, I feel very comfortable that I’m doing what the statutes say,” he said.
Bhasker said he does not expect to be censured by the state Medical Board, but only time will tell.
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