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This is a printer friendly version of an article from www.gadsdentimes.com
 

Article published Jun 15, 2004
Herrera to get license back Montgomery County judge reverses commission's decision

MONTGOMERY - A Montgomery County judge on Monday ordered the state medical licensing agency to immediately reinstate the license of Gadsden doctor Pascual Herrera Jr.

Circuit Judge Johnny Hardwick in a 24-page order told the Alabama Medical Licensure Commission to reinstate Herrera's medical license "and his right to practice medicine forthwith and without any further delay."

Herrera said he was pleased with the decision, but wasn't sure how soon his medical license would be reinstated.

"I'm excited because I've been waiting for this for quite a while," Herrera said in a telephone interview Herrera, who was bitter over the commission's April 2001 decision to revoke his license, said he may try to re-establish a practice in Gadsden. He said it's an uphill climb even though a revoked license is reinstated.

"I'm looking into it, but I have my doubts I'd stay here very long because the medical board would come after me again," he said.

The Medical Licensure Commission's attorney, Wayne Turner, couldn't be reached for comment.

Herrera's lawyer, Al Agricola, said Herrera was investigated because of an OxyContin scare in Gadsden several years ago following the deaths of several youths.
"I think that a very unfortunate series of events in Gadsden during the period prior to the proceedings resulted in an almost hysterical atmosphere about doctors who prescribed OxyContin," Agricola said. "There was no testimony that Dr. Herrera prescribed OxyContin to any of these teenagers."

Herrera said he "fired" one patient who demanded OxyContin.  OxyContin is a powerful pain reliever that can kill if used illegally and incorrectly Testimony against Herrera centered on allegedly inadequate record keeping and his poor handwriting.

But Hardwick, in his final judgment, wrote there was no substantial evidence that Herrera's treatment strategy for patients endangered anyone's health. "On the contrary," Hardwick wrote, "the record as a whole demonstrates that Dr. Herrera was `cognizant' of the Board's guidelines for the use of controlled substances for the treatment of pain and that he conformed his practice to those guidelines." Hardwick said the record demonstrates that Herrera had compassion for his patients, treated them without regard to whether they could pay and even made house calls.
"Given the scant evidence presented by the Board to supports its charges, the court is left with the unmistakable belief that the `MLC' was motivated to revoke Dr. Herrera's license to practice medicine by something other than the evidence presented to it," Hardwick said.

"However the evidence in this case cries out for reversal," he said.
Agricola said the evidence presented to the Medical Licensure Commission by the Board of Medical Examiners failed to satisfy the legal standard for substantial evidence to support the charges against him.

Herrera, 49, said he believes he was singled out for treatment because he is foreign-born, does not belong to a large group of physicians and isn't affiliated with a hospital.
He said the main testimony against him was by a family practitioner who reviewed his records but never interviewed his patients or doctors who substituted for him when he was recuperating from an automobile accident.
"OxyContin happened at the perfect time for me to be the perfect scapegoat," Herrera said.

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