Dr. Orens Update

UPDATE ON DR. ORENS

November, 2002

Dear Lyme Community,

Last Thursday, November 14th, 2002, Dr. Perry Orens lost his appeal to the NYS Court of Appeals, and his license to practice medicine has been revoked. This is just the latest assault resulting from the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct's harassment of physicians who are willing to treat chronic Lyme disease. As a short-hand, we refer to these doctors as "LLMDs," or "Lyme-literate medical doctors."

The following is a history of the decision process to-date:

The Original Decision by the OPMC to Revoke Dr. Orensí License Was Made in November 1999

Dr. Orens had more than a 40-year history of unblemished medical practice prior to this decision!! We believe that the investigation and the revocation of Dr. Orensí license by the OPMC was clearly part of an overall witch hunt against physicians who treat chronic Lyme disease. The MAJORITY of those physicians in New York State have come under OPMC attack.

The announcement of the revocation of Dr. Orens' license galvanized the entire Lyme community, which had not previously been aware of the full extent of the persecution of LLMDs. The subsequent Lyme activism that has resulted in 1) two Assembly hearings, 2) an Assembly resolution, and 3) an introduction of OPMC reform legislation, occurred too late to be of much help in the Orens case.

Dr. Orensí attorney then appealed the OPMC decision to revoke Dr. Orensí license. He brought the case to the Appellate division of the NYS Supreme Court, raising six points on which the OPMC panel decision might be reversed.

In 2001, the Appellate Division of the NYS Supreme Court Reversed the OPMC Decision Based on One of the Following

The law requires that the OPMC panel that had judged Dr. Orens was supposed to have consisted of two physicians and one lay person. However, the so-called "lay person" on the Orens OPMC panel was a Physicianís Assistant. So, in 2001, the Appellate Division of the NYS Supreme Court reversed the decision of the OPMC panel. They ruled that a Physicianís Assistant could NOT be considered a lay person, and Dr. Orensí license was returned to him.

OPMC Appeals the Decision of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court

After the above decision by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, the OPMC appealed the case in the next higher court (the Court of Appeals in NYS). The fact that a Physicianís Assistant is not a lay person in medicine seems pretty obvious to all of us. But the OPMC maintained that a Physicianís Assistant is actually a lay person and, therefore, the original decision to revoke Dr. Orens' license should stand.

Thursday, November 14, 2002, the Court of Appeals Revokes Dr. Orens License

In a vote of four to three, the Court of Appeals ruled that a Physicianís Assistant could be considered a lay person, and ordered Dr. Orenís license be revoked

What Happens Now?

Dr. Orensí case has been sent back to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for consideration of the other points that Dr. Orens and his attorney had raised in their original appeal. Since this Court had reversed the OPMC decision last year based on the first point (i.e., a Physician's Assistant is not a lay person), they had not considered the additional objections that Dr. Orens and his attorney had raised.

Although this represents another opportunity to obtain justice, this process will involve a huge amount of stress, energy, and financial strain. I spoke with Dr. Orens yesterday, and he is still going to fight!! Considering that the fight has already gone on for many years, and has left him in great financial debt (not to mention the toll it has taken on his well being), I believe his actions are truly heroic.

What Can We Do?

Dr. Orens is not able to afford legal representation for this next step. The case has already cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and his attorney has done much of the work without receiving payment. The Lyme community has helped greatly in the past with fund raisers and donations, but he still could use our help to continue his fight.

Please help by sending donations to the Orens Legal defense fund at:
Orens Legal Defense Fund
C/o Asher Fensterheim, Esq.
555 White Plains Road
Tarrytown NY 10591

Please make checks payable to Asher Fensterheim, Esq., and write "Orens Legal Defense" in the memo section of the check.

The loss of LLMDs based on OPMC harassment is a serious issue. Although Dr. Burrascano was able to basically win his case, the fact that other LLMDs, like Dr. Orens, are being brought down continues to create a situation where doctors will not dare to treat chronic Lyme disease. This is an issue that affects us all, and will continue to affect future Lyme victims.

Thanks,
Ellen
Voices of Lyme

For complete information on actions taken in this case, LymeInfo refers you to the following sources of information:

For Dr. Orensí case decision, see:
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/ctapps/decisions/135136opn02.pdf
2005 updated, Now see http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/slips/15755.htm

For background on OPMC harassment of Lyme-treating physicians, see:
http://www.lymeinfo.net/opmcissues.html


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