ER physician, accused of using drugs while on duty, loses his license

By: - November 30, 2022 2:56 pm

(Photo courtesy of the Iowa Board of Medicine)

The state of Iowa has suspended the license of an emergency room physician who appeared to be under the influence of narcotics while treating patients in an Iowa hospital and an Omaha clinic.

The same doctor now stands accused of continuing to practice medicine in Nebraska while his license there is under suspension.

The Iowa Board of Medicine alleges that Dr. Maman L. Ali was working in the emergency room of St. Anthony Regional Hospital in Carroll on Feb. 12 when a housekeeper entered a room that is set aside for doctors on call and noticed a vial of medicine and a needle laying on a table.

The housekeeper summoned a supervisor who found several other medications, a needle, and a half-filled syringe. It was then noted that Ali was behaving strangely and making odd movements, and that he appeared to be impaired. The supervisor contacted the hospital’s chief medical officer, who spoke to Ali.

According to the Board of Medicine, Ali admitted to the chief medical officer he had been self-administering drugs by injecting them into his neck over the past several months. He was then sent home. Board documents don’t indicate whether the hospital tested Ali for drug use.

Report: Doctor was ‘foaming at the mouth’

Three days after that incident, police received a report of a possible drug overdose at Miracle Hills Golf Course in Omaha. Witnesses reported seeing Ali seated in his car, shaking and foaming at the mouth, with a needle protruding from his arm and his eyes rolled back into his head. The car’s engine was revving as if Ali had his foot pressed to the gas pedal.

Ali was taken to a hospital, where he allegedly admitted he had injected himself with two drugs. However, Ali’s doctor didn’t believe Ali was being forthcoming about all of the drugs he had taken, and suspected Ali of abusing Ketamine, a drug that induces a trance-like state.

Police reportedly found eight different drugs in Ali’s car, along with $4,000 and an assortment of medical equipment. He was charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence.

Six weeks after the incident at the golf course, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services issued an order immediately suspending Ali’s license to practice in that state. In May, it issued a final order suspending Ali’s license for 15 months.

Nebraska state records indicate that last December, Ali allegedly returned from lunch to the Miracle Hills Clinic in Omaha, which he owned, and was visibly impaired, behaving in a manner that was loud, boisterous and confused. He allegedly bumped into walls several times, and after he showed signs of trouble staying on task with patients, the staff had to re-direct him.

The clinic later installed a video surveillance camera which allegedly captured footage of Ali entering the clinic after hours on multiple occasions and removing Ketamine from the supply cabinet.

The Nebraska state records indicate the clinic staff later told federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents that for months, Ali appeared to have been self-medicating during his lunch breaks and then returning to the clinic to treat patients. In one case, the clinic staffers alleged, Ali was found lying on the floor with a child that was brought in for treatment. He was also attempting to treat patients who weren’t there to see him, and he had trouble speaking, the staffers alleged.

In March 2022, Ali submitted to drug testing that reportedly showed an “exorbitantly high” level of alcohol in his system and the presence of Ketamine. The entity that evaluated Ali concluded, “Maman Ali is not safe to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety,” according to the Nebraska state records.

Doctor now accused of practicing without a license

The 2022 incidents were not the first in which Ali was involved. The Iowa Board of Medicine alleges that in April 2020, Ali was found passed out in his car, with the engine running and several bottles of alcohol in the front-seat console. His blood-alcohol level was measured at .149, well over the legal limit for driving.

In May 2022, citing the actions of Nebraska regulators, the Iowa Board of Medicine charged Ali with substance abuse, practicing in a manner harmful to the public and unprofessional conduct. At the time, the board also suspended Ali’s license to practice medicine in Iowa.

Recently, the board finalized its actions in the case and suspended Ali’s license indefinitely, specifying that he cannot apply for reinstatement until the Nebraska license suspension is lifted. He will then have the burden of showing that reinstatement of his Iowa license is in the public interest.

If Ali’s Iowa license is reinstated, it will be subject to several conditions and a probationary period of five years.

Two weeks ago, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services charged Ali with continuing to practice medicine while under suspension, and it sent him a cease-and-desist letter.

The department alleges that in April and May, after his suspension took effect, Ali wrote nine new prescriptions for one patient and supplied another patient with sample drugs.

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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.