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Medical board permanently pulls pediatrician's license

Posted March 20, 2009

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— The state medical board Friday permanently inactivated the license of nationally known pediatrician and author Dr. Mel Levine, saying he improperly conducted genital examinations on five patients between 1987 and 2006.

Levine, whose lawyer said he has always denied doing anything improper and still does, had agreed to the consent order to close the matter, and the medical board approved it in minutes. The term the board uses is that Levine's license is "on inactive status permanently." That differs legally from revocation.

Dr. Mel Levine book jacket Renowned physician gives up license amid allegations

"The medical board proceeding has been, and would continue to be, a major distraction with his primary mission of helping individuals who having learning disabilities and developmental problems," Levine's attorney, Alan Schneider, said after the hearing.

Elizabeth Kuniholm, an attorney representing the patients, said they were pleased Levine won't be able to examine patients anymore.

Levine is widely known for his work on developmental and learning issues for children, working through an appointment in pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his non-profit All Kinds of Minds organization, which has worked with school teachers to help them understand different learning styles.

He had voluntarily moved his license to inactive status last year while the medical board investigated the claims.

In laying out the background of the case in the consent order, the board referred to the patients as "A through E" and did not identify them by gender.

"The genital examinations performed by Dr. Levine ... were not medically indicated and were either not documented in the medical record or, if documented, failed to conform" to medical practice, the order states. They were done "outside the presence of a chaperone, parent or guardian," it states.

The order states that Levine maintains "that all physical and neurological examinations ... were medically indicated and were conducted consistent with standard medical practice in identifying physical abnormalities that might cause, contribute to or complicate the patient's developmental difficulties."

Schneider said Levine “emphatically denies the allegations," but he wants to move on and continue his research.

"He emphatically denied them at the time, he emphatically denies them today, and he will emphatically deny them to his last breath,” Schneider said of the allegations. "People are going to believe what they want to believe. The board has received close to hundreds of letters from parents, from educators (and) from former patients, as well as parents praising his many contributions and extolling the revolution and influence he's had on education as well as pediatrics."

The board said it accepted the order reluctantly because Levine can still work in education, but it acknowledged that is not in its jurisdiction.

"This board is conflicted in that this consent order does not impose a reprimand or other verbal discipline," board president Dr. George L. Saunders III said. However, "he will not practice here or anywhere ever again."

Levine has retired from UNC as a professor of pediatrics and has no privileges to practice there.

He had been a major figure in the university's Center for Development and Learning, which is now part of UNC's Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities. He is no longer listed as part of the institute, however.

Schneider said Levine, who lives north of Durham, is working with parents of children with developmental disabilities through a new Web-based institute called Bringing up Minds.

Kuniholm said most of the victims don't mind if Levine is allowed to continue developmental research. They just want to keep him from examining patients to ensure no one is abused in the future, she said.

"The concern is that he not have access to children, particularly boy children to do a physical exam," she said. "Dr. Levine is certainly a very knowledgeable man and has a lot to offer, as long as he's not given an opportunity to do this kind of harm."

Several former patients in Boston have sued Levine. There are no pending suits against him in North Carolina.

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  • coachsneighbor Mar 20, 2009

    This is a travesty. Genitalia have to be examined. Do you think I like what my doc has to do to me to make sure I"m healthy? If I were immature I might construe these actions as sexual behavior. And it doesn't surprise me one iota to learn of the involvement of attorney Elizabeth Kuniholm, whose mission in life it seems to be to smear the good names of long-practicing pediatricians. Believe me, I know this first hand. So if you think something stinks here--it does. And it's the legal system that stinks.

  • Grandaddy Mar 20, 2009

    No- what keeps him off the sex offender list is a lack of a conviction in a court of law, like it should be... everyone here needs to stop making asinine comments like they know what's going on!

    Like I said "Suspected". Why was he not charged with child molestation? (to answer my own question) because of his fame and his money,

  • SailbadTheSinner Mar 20, 2009

    I’m not in the medical field, but I’m not too sure about this ‘another person in the room’ thing.

    I’m a male, and so is my doctor. He’s done some things to me that were downright obscene, and none to comfortable either, with just the two of us in the room.

    Of course, that may be a good thing. It’s embarrassing to scream like that with a bunch of folks standing around ....

    STS

  • dacoty Mar 20, 2009

    "So now we have someone that is suspected of child molestation, allowed to just quit their job,and everything is ok? So I guess having been a Dr. and an author keeps him off the sex offender's list. Again money and fame buys the law."

    No- what keeps him off the sex offender list is a lack of a conviction in a court of law, like it should be... everyone here needs to stop making asinine comments like they know what's going on!

  • JAT Mar 20, 2009

    I agree, I've never left my child alone in a room with a nurse, doctor or anyone. But maybe the dr asked the mom to step out; weren't these unusual cases? But given that, can the kids really tell if he "fondled" them or just examined them? Depending on how you ask the question, you'll get the answer you're looking for.

  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ Mar 20, 2009

    What a waste of money, time, and commitment in going through medical school! Ex-Dr. Mel Levine really was a waste of carbon, doing stupid things that led him to lose his license. I wish I had the money to go to medical school and get my degree+license.

  • christineswisher Mar 20, 2009

    It's sad someone with such a brilliant career has had this happen to him - whether it's his fault or not.

  • yogi648 Mar 20, 2009

    How many things in your office do you have documented from 1987? Things have changed alot since then, documentation and procedures included. Dr's had just starting wearing masks then for the fear of AIDS being airborne. Don't throw stones...

  • warrior Mar 20, 2009

    Okay first, it was the Medical Board who would not release the sex of the child. It was the patient's attorney who mentioned the sex of the child.

    Secondly, saying I hope this doesn't erradicate the man's good work, well he had to have access to children for some of his good work. We only know of these children. How many more couldn't speak up or haven't spoken up. It is deeply disturbing to me that this man be able to work in his field of disabled children and such with the only caution being he can't examine them. What if he says, I need to take a walk with so and so, or is in a private room evaluating someone.

    I know the medical board can't do anything as they say it is not in their jurisdiction, but it is frightening

  • Grandaddy Mar 20, 2009

    So now we have someone that is suspected of child molestation, allowed to just quit their job,and everything is ok? So I guess having been a Dr. and an author keeps him off the sex offender's list. Again money and fame buys the law.

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