A US physician specializing in alternative medicine has lost his license over a case of diagnosing a 4-year-old with bipolar disorder and ADD/ADHD in a 30-minute appointment, and prescribing medical marijuana as treatment.
Dr. William Eidelman of Hollywood, California wasted no time in September 2012, when he recommended father of then a four-year-old boy to give his son cannabis so he would behave himself in school.
It took doctor Eidelman, a graduate of St. Louis Medical School, only from 20 to 30 minutes to diagnose the child with a “probable combination” of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder, according to the California medical board, which took up the case after school authorities sounded alarm over the unusual treatment.
During the brief appointment, the child appeared normal and alert – although a bit agitated from what well could have been a long day in school – according to the doctor’s own admission.
Eidelman, who previously prescribed medical marijuana to the boy’s father and his older brother to treat similar conditions, heavily relied on family history without taking into account more mundane explanation for the child’s temper tantrums reported by his father, the board found.
“Given that it was early in the school year, the child’s behavior might have been a function of separation anxiety of the type exhibited by young children when they begin school,” it said, noting that Eidelman “clearly did not look to simpler explanations” including that bipolar disorder is extremely rare in the patients of that age and “occurs prior to adolescence in less than one percent of cases.”
During the doctor’s interviews with the board, it became clear that he “had not even a basic understanding of the diagnostic criteria for either ADHD or Bipolar Disorder,” the board concluded.
Neither did Eidelman refer the child to a psychiatrist. He later told the medical board that father was “not enthusiastic” about the prospect, as he had “bad experiences” with psychiatrists himself. The father also told the doctor that it was the child’s teacher who believed that the boy should be medicated unless he wants to be expelled from school.
Following the doctor’s advice, the father began giving his son marijuana-laced cookies to school. According to the father, the boy’s behavior did indeed improve, but the effect lasted only till afternoon. In order for the boy to receive another dosage of pot, the father instructed a school nurse to administer it to the boy. The nurse, however, alerted the school administration, which, in turn, tipped off the child protective services.
However, it was not Eidelman’s decision to treat the child with marijuana that cost him his license. The board stated that “it has not been established…that recommendation of medical marijuana with his father’s consent, violated the standard of care.” The board said that opinions have been split on the issue.
Instead, the board said that that the doctor was “grossly negligent” in determining the diagnosis without proper examination and a subsequent consultation with psychologist, as it decided to revoke his license starting Janaury,4.
The board also took into account the doctor’s earlier brushes with the law. In 2000 and 2001 he was caught red-handed prescribing marijuana to undercover investigators “without a good faith examination” and a proper follow-up.
Eidelman takes a pride in his long history of prescribing cannabis, which he has been doing since its legalization. Despite the medical board revoking his license, he is defiant and continues to practice medicine.
“The judge ruled that the revocation is stayed, so yes, I’m still practicing,” he said last week as cited by the Los Angeles Times. His lawyer said that the revocation would not take effect until his appeal is heard by a San Francisco County Superior Court in March. However, the board currently lists his license as revoked.
California has one of the most lax marijuana laws in the US. It spearheaded the legalization of medical marijuana in the 1990s, becoming the first state to legalize it in 1996 and in 2016 proceeded to legalize recreational marijuana. Since January, 1, 2018 it has been selling non-medical pot.
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