Former Iowa City doctor accused of professional incompetence

By: - April 19, 2022 2:27 pm

A former Iowa City physician has been charged by state regulators with professional incompetence. (Photo courtesy of the Iowa Board of Medicine)

A former Iowa City physician has been charged by the Iowa Board of Medicine with professional incompetence.

Dr. Shafik N. Wassef, a 38-year-old Iowa-licensed physician who formerly practiced in Iowa City, is charged by the board with four violations of the rules governing the practice of medicine in Iowa.

They include professional incompetence related to a substantial lack of knowledge or ability to discharge one’s professional obligations; engaging in a practice that is harmful or detrimental to the public, which can include the failure to exercise the degree of skill expected of a physician; and unprofessional conduct related to a failure to maintain the confidentiality of patient information.

The specifics of how Wassef is alleged to have violated those rules is disclosed only in records that, under a 2021 Iowa Supreme Court ruling, must be kept confidential until the case is resolved.

A hearing date in the case has yet to be scheduled.

As part of this same case, the board initially filed single charge against Wassef in February 2021. The board has kept confidential not only the alleged facts and circumstances that led to that charge, but the charge itself. As a result, it’s not clear what specific regulation Wassef was accused of violating in that case, although he did deny the allegation in a response filed with the board.

Board documents indicate the case against Wassef dates back to at least 2018.

Other recent actions by the board include:

Dr. Emad M. Hasan – The board recently voted to restore, free and clear of any restrictions, Hasan’s license. Hasan is a 49-year-old Iowa-licensed physician who formerly practiced neurological surgery in Iowa City, and who now practices in North Carolina. Two months ago, Hasan entered into settlement agreement with the Iowa board whereby he agreed to pay a $2,500 civil penalty and submit a written corrective-action plan describing the steps he was taking to avoid making “errors” of the kind that allegedly occurred during a May 2021 operation. In that case, Hasan was to perform a frontotemporal craniotomy to cut out a lesion on a patient’s brain. The plan for the operation called for Hasan to initiate surgery on the right side of the patient’s head, but Hasan is alleged to have mistakenly initiated the procedure from the patient’s left side. According to the board, due to the location of the lesion, the surgery continued and was ultimately completed without complications for the patient.

Dr. Danny Lewis, Jr. – The board voted to restore, free and clear of any restrictions, Lewis’ license. According to the board, the 31-year-old physician, who practices family medicine in Waterloo, entered into a settlement agreement with the board in March 2020 to resolve allegations that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with a female patient in September 2019. According to the board, the relationship was concurrent with the couple’s physician-patient relationship, and Lewis continued to treat the patient while remaining in a sexual relationship with her. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Lewis was ordered to pay a $1,000 civil penalty and complete a board-approved program on professional boundaries. The board also placed Lewis on probation for a period of three to five years, subject to board monitoring. Last month, two years after the probation order was entered, the board determined Lewis had “successfully complied with the terms” of the 2020 order.

Dr. Mark A. Pithan – The board voted to restore, free and clear of any restrictions, Pithan’s license. According to the board, the 45-year-old physician, who practices neurology in Davenport, entered into a consent agreement with the board in 2017 when he was granted an Iowa license. Two years before, in May 2015, Pithan was arrested in Colorado on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs. In September of that year, he allegedly admitted to Drug Enforcement Administration investigators he had self-prescribed and self-administered a controlled substance, and he voluntarily surrendered his DEA registration and all controlled substances in his office. In 2016, he successfully completed a 30-day treatment program, agreed to a 180-day suspension of his Colorado license, and agreed to five years of ongoing monitoring. In 2017, the Iowa board made its decision to grant Pithan a license and referred him to the Iowa Physician Health Program for substance abuse treatment and monitoring. Last month, the Iowa board determined Pithan successfully completed the terms of its 2017 order.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.

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