Attorney: Suspension of E'town doctor's license result of error

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Original order was withdrawn, replaced by restriction

By Sarah Bennett

A classification error on the part of the Kentucky Medical Licensure Board led to a five-day suspension of an Elizabethtown doctor’s license, according to an attorney.

Dr. Cahn Jeff Vo, 45, was indicted March 20 on charges of misbranding, health care fraud, mail fraud and smuggling. In total, he faces 13 federal charges.

Vo, who has held a license to practice medicine in the commonwealth since 1999, is accused of purchasing and administering non-FDA-approved Mirenas, a levonorgesteral-releasing intrauterine device. Vo owns Bluegrass Women’s Healthcare at 551 Westport Road in Elizabethtown.

The licensure board suspended Vo’s license April 3 but withdrew the suspension Monday and subsequently issued an order restricting the OB/GYN’s license.

Under the order issued Monday, Vo is prohibited from purchasing and/or inserting into patients any levonorgesteral-releasing IUDs or any non-FDA-approved medical device or drug until the case is resolved in federal court.

Vo’s defense attorney, Trevor Wells of Lexington, requested the licensure board discontinue the suspension in a letter dated April 4. According to that letter, the suspension was issued based on “a significant factual/classification error.”

In its order suspending Vo’s license, the board concluded there was probable cause to believe the doctor violated state law and cited 201 Kentucky Administrative Regulation 9:240 3(1) and (2), which pertain to a licensed physician indicted on a felony charge related to a controlled substance.

According to the regulations, a physician indicted on a felony-related drug charge is considered “an immediate danger to the public health, safety or welfare,” the licensure board must suspend or restrict the physician’s license immediately.

In his letter to the board, Wells said the IUDs that Vo is accused of administering are medical devices that release a synthetic hormone as opposed to controlled substances.

“To the extent that the Board’s Emergency Order suspending Dr. Vo’s license assumes otherwise, it raises serious due process concerns,” the attorney wrote.

The board did not lift the suspension until Monday and did not elaborate as to why it did so. However, in its emergency order restricting the doctor’s license, it lists Wells’ correspondence among information considered in its decision.

In a letter sent to the board Monday, Wells wrote Vo did not agree with the restrictions but withdrew a request for a post-deprivation hearing to focus resources toward defending himself against the criminal charges.

Vo made his first appearance in federal court March 22 and has been released on a $25,000 unsecured bond.

On April 2, Vo’s defense filed a written motion for partial dismissal of the indictment. As of Thursday, the U.S. Attorney of the Western District of Kentucky had not responded. Prosecutors have until April 19 to do so.

The defense asks the court to dismiss in part the misbranding charge and fully dismiss the charges of mail and health care fraud. According to the defense, one of the mail fraud charges is outside the five-year statute of limitations.

According to the indictment, Vo allegedly billed the Kentucky Medicaid program and private insurers as if he administered the FDA-approved Mirena IUD while installing in patients the foreign-obtained devices instead.

However, in the written motion, Wells wrote applicable Medicaid regulations do not prohibit reimbursement for non-FDA-approved IUDs under the alleged circumstances.

“Although repeatedly pressed to do so by Dr. Vo, however, the government has not, to date, been able to provide Dr. Vo or his counsel with any citation that supports the legal position that lies at the heart of the indictment it has chosen to prosecute and to publicize via media releases,” the motion reads. “From all indications, the ‘FDA-approved-only’ requirement does not actually exist.”

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.