April 15, 2006 in Idaho

Haw faces patients’ charges

By The Spokesman-Review
 

At least a dozen patients of Tarek L. Haw plan to seek criminal charges against the former Coeur d’Alene doctor poised to lose his medical license for actions that include misuse of prescription drugs, insurance fraud and sexual misconduct, a lawyer representing the women said Friday.

Rami Amaro, a Coeur d’Alene lawyer, said she initiated a police complaint that could lead to felony charges of sexual exploitation by a medical care provider. Ron Clark, a Coeur d’Alene Police Department detective, confirmed that an investigation has been opened but said he could not discuss the ongoing case.

Amaro, who is a candidate for District 1 judge, said she is pursuing the matter on behalf of several women who allege that Haw conducted unnecessary and invasive breast and pelvic examinations, among other violations. Their specific claims are similar to complaints substantiated this week by a hearings officer for the Idaho Board of Medicine, Amaro said.

The officer found there was ample evidence to support discipline that could lead to revocation of Haw’s license and his right to practice in Idaho. Twenty-one complaints alleged that Haw violated community standards of medical care, engaged in fraudulent insurance practices and performed unnecessary and invasive examinations, including pelvic exams conducted without gloves. All but one were founded, the officer said. The state board is expected to take formal action May 12.

“He was someone in a position of trust,” Amaro said. “This doctor has a long history of misusing his license. I’ll be glad to see it go.”

One alleged victim said Haw required prolonged breast examinations and full pelvic exams simply to authorize refilling prescriptions.

“I think that he and I should have smoked a cigarette after my exam,” the 52-year-old North Idaho woman said. “He was creepy.”

The Spokesman-Review typically does not identify victims of sexual crimes.

According to Idaho Code, sexual exploitation by a medical provider carries a penalty of $1,000, one year in jail, or both. Violations of the code must be reported within two years of the alleged act.

The police investigation is the first indication that Haw’s alleged professional lapses might constitute criminal behavior. State medical board officials have been concerned primarily with the status of Haw’s license, which previously was suspended, denied and reinstated.

“Referring it to law enforcement is not something that we’ve entertained,” said Mary Leonard, associate director for the board. “If we’re certain there has been a sexual assault or illegal drug exchange, we’ve referred in the past, but that’s not really our role.”

Amaro said she expected more of Haw’s estimated 435 patients to come forward. Haw, 61, abruptly closed his Coeur d’Alene practice last fall, leaving several patients with no access to their medical records. No one answered the phone number listed for Haw in Boise.

Medical board officials had believed that Haw had returned to Egypt, where he graduated from medical school in 1968. But several local residents said they’d seen Haw in North Idaho grocery stores and on city streets this week. Leonard said the medical board had received several reports from people who said they’d seen Haw as well.

“We’ve had reports of sightings of him, but we have not had any other contact,” she said.


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