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UVM backing health center director - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

UVM backing health center director

Burlington, Vermont - September 26, 2011

Did the University of Vermont's Director of Student Health Services do enough to protect students from potentially dangerous prescribing habits of clinic employees? That's the question before the state's Medical Practice Board this week.

Former UVM physician assistant Peter Nobes read the charges against him to the Medical Practice Board Monday. He has admitted to prescribing pain killers to kids without ever seeing them and refilling prescriptions that were supposedly lost or stolen. But Nobes is not the one in the hot seat. It's his former boss and current director of UVM's Center for Health and Wellness, Dr. Jon Porter, who has been at the center's helm since 2007 and is facing multiple counts of professional misconduct for failing to properly oversee the work of his staff.

Assistant Attorney General Terry Lovelace argued that Porter failed to regularly monitor Nobes' performance or track the progress of his patients and under state law supervising physicians are legally liable for the prescribing habits and actions of their physician assistants. "This case is about responsibility. It's about taking responsibility for folks that you manage," Lovelace told the board.

"I have the utmost confidence and so does UVM in his clinical supervision," said Annie Stevens, UVM's Campus and Student Life Assoc. Vice President.
UVM is defending Dr. Porter and has concerns over the implications that this case may have.  "Doctor Jon Porter reported this himself as soon as he became aware, so why would the board then turn around and try to claim that Dr. Jon Porter has misconduct," Stevens said.

The University maintains Porter met the appropriate standard of clinical supervision required and worries this case will make other physicians think twice before reporting a subordinate.
"So there's a chilly climate issue there and would certainly create pause for any doctor in Vermont to want to hire physician assistants in the future if they are carried with strict liability on their license," Stevens said.

UVM says no students were harmed, but Nobes no longer works at the university clinic and restrictions have been placed on his certification. Dr. Porter faces a range a disciplinary actions including the loss of his license. The hearing is expect to wrap up in the next few days.

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