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Hawaii News

State investigation of Ayon under way for several months

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    In addition to his criminal trial for allegedly asking a patient to kill his girlfriend, Wahiawa doctor Dennis Ayon also is being investigated by the state's Regulated Industries Complaints Office to see whether he violated the rules of the state licensing board.
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A state complaints agency had been investigating Wahiawa doctor Dennis Ayon for several months before police arrested him this month for allegedly asking a patient to kill his ex-girlfriend.

Jo Ann Uchida, an enforcement officer with the Regulated Industries Complaints Office, said the state opened an investigation of Ayon to see whether he violated the rules of the state licensing board. She could not comment further on the ongoing investigation or say how long the investigation would take.

Once the complaints office completes the investigation, the case is forwarded to the Hawaii Medical Board, which decides whether to revoke or suspend a doctor’s license. The board also can fine, censure, or reprimand a physician.

Connie Cabral, executive officer of the medical board, said Ayon had not been investigated by the board since receiving his license in Hawaii in April 1998.

Meanwhile, the number of disciplinary actions against doctors appears to be shrinking compared with previous years.

The Hawaii Medical Board has taken 11 serious disciplinary actions against physicians through June 2010, including revoking six licenses and restricting five. Another doctor was cited with the lesser sanction called a nonprejudicial action.

The 12 disciplinary actions are on track to be fewer than the Medical Board’s 29 disciplinary actions last year.

The board, which is tasked with protecting the public from dishonest, fraudulent or unskilled practitioners, revoked or restricted 22 licenses and issued 7 lesser sanctions in 2009.

Cabral said Hawaii has made headway in taking disciplinary actions against offending doctors. About seven years ago, it sat in last place in the nation for disciplining doctors and jumped to number 10 this year.

The board and complaints office improved its rating by revising the licensing application and enhancing the communication between state and national boards, she said.

Cabral said she isn’t worried that the first half of this year seems be on track for fewer disciplinary actions this year.

"We don’t want to go out and just be vigilantes," Cabral said. "We don’t want to go out and try to find things that aren’t there. Also we wouldn’t want to go out and be unduly harsh when there could be possible rehabilitation for the physician.

"The board’s primary focus is on patient safety," she said.

Disciplined doctors last year make up less than 1 percent of the 7,800 physicians licensed to practice in Hawaii. Only about 4,055 of them live in the state while the rest live on the mainland or in another country.

 

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