Aberdeen physician Dr. Daniel Canfield says he plans to fight the accusations levied against him recently by the State Department of Health.
On May 26, the Department of Health’s Osteopathic Board found Canfield to be “unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety,” according to department documents, which added, “Charges say an evaluation found Canfield to have serious health conditions that make it difficult for him to function as a physician.”
Canfield said the charges are unwarranted as he had already voluntarily stopped practicing medicine in the summer of 2016. He said he felt he was still capable at that time of seeing patients and his cognitive abilities were fine, but “because I didn’t want something to pop up and cause somebody harm, I decided to wait until after the transplant to return to practice.”
Canfield said he was diagnosed with a liver disease seven years ago, “likely attributed to a surgery, because I was in good health and it was not brought on by alcohol or drugs.” He said he had liver bypass surgery two years ago, “kind of like a cardiac bypass surgery but on your liver, where they reroute some of the blood going through the liver because I continued to have GI bleeds from high pressures and they became a little dangerous.”
After the bypass, “I got better,” said Canfield. “It worked wonders. But two weeks after that I had an episode that put me into a coma. But 40 percent of the people who go through that type of surgery have that side effect, and they usually have it one time and they usually don’t have a repeat episode.” In fact, Canfield said he has not had a repeat of that episode in the two years since.
“It was at that point I stopped practicing medicine until we got everything sorted out. My heptologist at the University of Washington said there would be no problem with me working part time.”
Canfield said his UW doctor suggested he be taken off the on-call list at Grays Harbor Community Hospital but could still practice and see his patients on a part time basis.
“That started everything,” said Canfield. “My crime is I got sick.”
He disputes a neuropsychological evaluation the state said found him to be suffering to cognitive difficulties in October of last year.
“They had me do one test, but one of my other doctors had just started me on a new drug for narcolepsy and I couldn’t stay awake for the all-day test,” said Canfield. “My doctor even wrote that this medication would definitely effect any test I received. You would think they would take a look at this. I was impaired big time. I couldn’t complete the test.”
Canfield said he was never informed as to the results of the test, and his transplant doctors at both the UW and the Mayo Clinic have never been asked for their input as to his condition.
“It looks like I’ll get a transplant in the next six months,” he said. “I was just being worked up for a transplant when all this started and still haven’t returned to practice. All I do is take care of the paramedics and the state is worried about my cognitive abilities and wants to take away my license.”
There were also concerns about Canfield’s state of mind during his evaluation.
“There were worries I’ve been depressed,” he said. “I admit it, I am. I can’t imagine you not being depressed if you were in my shoes. I had to stop my practice immediately, which leads to bankruptcy. I’ve been told I’m going to die and I’m trying hard to stay alive. I live in my house at the beach and every day I make myself get up no matter how much it hurts. I can’t remember the last time I got up and didn’t hurt.”
Canfield says he will defend himself against the charges and has 20 days to reply to the state’s assessment. He said after his transplant he hopes to return to practice.