Nurse suspended after authorizing medical pot for unqualified patients


File Photo: Robert F. Bukaty, Associated Press.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - A registered nurse has been suspended on charges of substandard care in medical marijuana authorizations.

Sharol L. Chavez worked at South Sound Medicine in Lacey and operated her own clinic.

According to the statement of charges, most of Chavez's practice at South Sound Medicine involved patients seeking authorizations for medical marijuana. In treating these patients, Chavez allegedly didn't adequately review medical histories, document patient examinations and inform patients of other treatment options. The charges say she authorized medical marijuana for patients who were not qualified, and didn't document treatments she attempted before authorizing medical marijuana.

While operating her own clinic, Chavez allegedly issued medical marijuana authorizations, prescription refills, and prescriptions for narcotics without proper patient examinations. Charges say that in some cases Chavez never saw patients, and was aware that some of her prescriptions were supplying oxycodone pills to the illegal marketplace.

Chavez was also charged with aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of medicine by allowing South Sound Medicine owner Paul Wendler to control the timing and methods of patient care.

Wendler has no health care credentials in Washington and the state Department of Health has issued notice of intent to seek a cease-and-desist order under unlicensed practice laws.

In operating the clinic in Lacey, Wendler allegedly interfered with the practice of at least two licensed health care professionals, including Chavez; exerted control over patient care; had inappropriate access to patient records; and wouldn't let licensed staff have access to the records.

The charges against Wendler say he established the expiration date for medical marijuana authorizations, determined patient treatment intervals, and ordered lab work for patients. Wendler has 20 days to respond to the allegations and request a hearing.

Chavez also has 20 days to request a hearing to contest the charges. She cannot practice as a nurse or nurse practitioner in Washington until the charges are resolved.


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