Image: Parvez Dara
Mike Derer  /  AP
Dr. Parvez Dara, an oncologist with offices in Toms River, N.J., has had his license suspended after his office becamse the suspected source of a hepatitis B outbreak.
updated 4/8/2009 1:32:07 PM ET 2009-04-08T17:32:07

A New Jersey doctor whom health officials suspect was the source of a hepatitis B outbreak had his medical license suspended indefinitely on Wednesday by state regulators.

Nearly 3,000 of Dr. Parvez Dara's patients have been warned to get tested after five cancer patients tested positive for the disease, which is transmitted through exposure to infected blood and can cause serious liver damage.

The state is still investigating the outbreak.

Members of the state Board of Medical Examiners decided to temporarily suspend the Ocean County oncologist's license on an emergency basis on Friday. On Wednesday, the full board voted to continue the suspension.

Dara's attorney, Robert Conroy, says there is no direct evidence that the hepatitis cases are linked to him. He asked the board on Wednesday to reinstate the doctor's license or at least allow him to perform consultations and exams.

"There's no reason why he couldn't practice in a hospital or perform noninvasive procedures," Conroy said, adding that the system for license suspension in New Jersey was "grossly unfair."

In its ruling, the board said Dara's "continued practice would present clear and present danger to public health, safety and welfare."

Conroy said Dara would immediately appeal the decision. Dara, who attended the hearing, declined to comment.

The state moved to suspend Dara's license after health officials discovered that five people recently diagnosed with the disease in Ocean County share the same doctor.

Health inspectors visited Dara's office in March and described conditions there as unsanitary. The inspectors said they found blood on the floor of a room where chemotherapy was administered, blood in a bin where blood vials were stored, unsterile saline and gauze and open medication vials.

Inspectors also cited problems with cross-contamination of pens, refrigerators and countertops; use of contaminated gloves; and misuse of antiseptics, among other health code violations.

  1. Don't miss these Health stories
    1. Splash News
      More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?

      Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 percent in recent years, experts say. But many doctors are puzzled because the operation doesn't carry a 100 percent guarantee, it's major surgery -- and women have other options, from a once-a-day pill to careful monitoring.

    2. Larry Page's damaged vocal cords: Treatment comes with trade-offs
    3. Report questioning salt guidelines riles heart experts
    4. CDC: 2012 was deadliest year for West Nile in US
    5. What stresses moms most? Themselves, survey says

Following the inspection, county health officials sent a March 28 letter to Dara's patients warning them of the risk and suggesting they be tested for the liver diseases hepatitis B and hepatitis C and for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Dara, originally from Pakistan, has been practicing at his Toms River office for 23 years. He estimated that he sees between 45 and 60 patients a day, with about a dozen receiving chemotherapy each day.

A handful of patients came to the hearing to show their support.

One of them, Ken Allen of Manchester, said Dara came highly recommended. Allen, who has lymphoma, said that in the six months he has been Dara's patient, he never felt at risk for contracting an infection.

"I've never seen anything untoward at his office," he said. "I have a lot of respect for the man."

Allen was tested for hepatitis after receiving the letter from health officials advising him to get checked out. He's awaiting the results.

When asked if he was worried about contracting the disease, Allen said: "Absolutely not."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments