A New York state radiation oncologist accused of gross negligence and incompetence back in 2018 has now lost his medical license.
The state Board for Professional Medical Conduct has revoked the medical license of Won Sam Yi, MD, following a lengthy review of the care he provided to seven cancer patients; six of them died.
“He is a danger to potential new patients should he be reinstated as a radiation oncologist,” board members wrote, according to a news report in the Buffalo News.
Yi’s lawyer said that he is appealing the decision.
As previously reported by Medscape Medical News, Yi was the former CEO of the now-defunct private cancer practice CCS Oncology, located in western New York.
In 2018, the state health department brought numerous charges of professional misconduct against Yi, including charges that he had failed to “account for prior doses of radiotherapy” as well as exceeding “appropriate tissue tolerances” during the treatment.
Now, the state’s Board for Professional Medical Conduct has upheld nearly all of the departmental charges that had been levied against him, and also found that Yi failed to take responsibility or show contrition for his treatment decisions.
However, whistleblower claims from a former CSS Oncology employee were dismissed.
CCS Oncology was once one of the largest private cancer practices in Erie and Niagara counties, both in the Buffalo metropolitan area.
Yi purchased CCS Oncology in 2008 and was its sole shareholder, and in 2012 he also acquired CCS Medical. As of 2016, the practices provided care to about 30% of cancer patients in the region. CCS also began acquiring other practices as it expanded into noncancer specialties, including primary care.
However, CCS began to struggle financially in late 2016, when health insurance provider Independent Health announced it was removing CCS Oncology from its network, and several vendors and lenders subsequently sued CCS and Yi for nonpayment.
The announcement from Independent Health was “financially devastating to CCS,” and also was “the direct cause” of the practice defaulting on its Bank of America loan and of the practice’s inability to pay not only its vendors but state and federal tax agencies, the Buffalo News reported. As a result, several vendors and lenders had sued CCS and Yi for nonpayment.
The FBI raided numerous CCS locations in March 2018, seizing financial and other data as part of an investigation into possible Medicare billing fraud. The following month, CCS filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing it owed millions of dollars to Bank of America and other creditors. Shortly afterward, the practice closed.
The state’s charges of professional misconduct accused Yi of “gross negligence,” “gross incompetence,” and several other cases of misconduct in treating seven patients between 2009 and 2013 at various CCS locations. The patients ranged in age from 27 to 72. Six of the seven patients died.
In one case, Yi was accused of providing whole-brain radiation therapy to a 43-year-old woman for about 6 weeks in 2012, but the treatment was “contrary to medical indications” and did not take into account prior doses of such treatment. The patient died in December of that year, and the board concluded that Yi had improperly treated her with a high dose of radiation that was intended to cure her cancer even though she was at a stage where her disease was incurable.
The state board eventually concluded that for all but one of the patients in question, Yi was guilty of misconduct in his treatment decisions. They wrote that Yi had frequently administered radiation doses without taking into account how much radiation therapy the patients had received previously and without considering the risk of serious complications for them.
Yi plans to appeal the board’s decision in state court, according to his attorney, Anthony Scher.
“Dr Yi has treated over 10,000 patients in his career,” Scher told the Buffalo News. “These handful of cases don’t represent the thousands of success stories that he’s had.”
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