Local News

N.C. Medical Board Accuses Doctor In Spa Death

Posted April 14, 2005

— The medical director of a Raleigh spa is accused of improperly prescribing a powerful numbing gel that's being blamed for the death of a North Carolina State University student.

The North Carolina Medical Board has charged Dr. Ira Uretzky with one violation and two counts of unprofessional conduct -- serious charges for which Uretzky could lose his medical license.

"Anytime we charge a doctor with unprofessional conduct there's a potential he could lose his license and lose his livelihood," said Brian Blankenship, an attorney for the medical board. "That's always serious."

The medical board's report charges Uretzky did not take medical histories or perform physicals on patients. In addition it says he did not have a dispensing license required by law to give out medicine.

Uretzky's attorney, James Wilson, said his client would respond to the charges against him.

"Dr. Uretzky has been cooperating fully with the board and intends to continue to do so," Wilson said. "We're anxious to answer the charges and are looking forward to do that as this case goes forward."

The medical board also said Uretzky had not properly registered with the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy.

The pharmacy board is still investigating the pharmacy that sold the numbing cream to Uretzky.

An attorney for Triangle Compounding Pharmacy maintains the business gave Premier lidocaine for office use only.

The medical board complaint says that Uretzky ordered 142 small tubes of the numbing cream for his spa.

If the pharmacy distributed the cream knowing it would be given to individuals without a prescription, it too could face sanctions.

The Board will hear Uretzky's case on June 15. At that time both sides will have an opportunity to present evidence and witnesses.

"I would only bring charges against a doctor if I believed I had sufficient evidence to prove the allegations," Blankenship said.

Uretzky could get anywhere from a reprimand to a suspension or revocation of his license.

If his license is revoked he could re-apply for a new one in two years.

Shiri Berg is not mentioned in the charges against Uretzky, but her family is still considering litigation against all the parties they believe played a role in her death.

Officials say 22-year-old Shiri Berg died of a lidocaine overdose Jan. 5 after she applied the anesthetic gel to her legs.

A passing motorist found her in her car having seizures on the morning of Dec. 28. She died nine days later.

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