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Portsmouth doctor reprimanded for writing prescriptions for woman he later had relationship with

By PAT GROSSMITH
New Hampshire Union Leader

June 09. 2015 1:41PM




CONCORD - A Portsmouth cardiologist has been reprimanded by a state medical board amid allegations he prescribed medications to a co-worker at no charge and later entered into a romantic relationship with her.

Frank A. Fedele, who received a license to practice medicine in March of 1991, reached a settlement agreement with the State of New Hampshire Board of Medicine that was approved on Friday. The agreement said it was entered into to avoid the delay and expense of further proceedings and to provide the best interests of the public and the practice of medicine.

Under the agreement, Fedele's license to practice medicine was suspended for six months, but the suspension was stayed as long as he met certain conditions including participating in the New Hampshire Professionals Health Program, following all recommendations; completing Continuing Medical Education classes including eight hours focused on ethics; a 30-hour intensive program on controlled substance prescribing, and 24 hours on professional boundaries. The board said he already completed all the mandated courses.

He also is to pay an administrative fine of $6,000.

Fedele was with patients and unavailable for comment when a New Hampshire Union Leader reporter called Tuesday afternoon.

Under the agreement, Fedele agreed that the following information and evidence could be presented in support of proving his professional misconduct:

In May 2010 he agreed to perform, without charge, a courtesy cardiac auscultation - listening to the internal sounds of the body, usually using a stethoscope - on a female co-worker, a licensed nurse, to evaluate a cardiac murmur heard by another physician. He prepared a medical record to document his findings and, at that time, issued the co-worker a prescription for alprazolam (Xanax) with multiple refills. The co-worker previously had been prescribed the medication for anxiety related to airline travel.

In August 2010, Fedele began a romantic relationship with the woman and between October 2010 and September 2011, he prescribed non-controlled medication for her, at her request, for minor medical issues. He did not examine her prior to prescribing the medications, but accepted her report of symptoms and previous prescription for the medications. He did not charge her.

Neither Fedele nor the co-worker believed they had established a patient-physician relationship. "Nevertheless, the respondent's conduct in treating the co-worker shortly before and during a romantic relationship" violated the state code of medical ethics, according to the board.

In December 2013, the board's investigator sent Fedele a letter requesting a written response concerning two Xanax prescriptions. In January 2014 Fedele responded, but withheld material information about the prescriptions.

On April 9, the board investigator interviewed Fedele who admitted that in July 2011 and again in January 2012 , he forged Xanax prescriptions by creating the false impression that the prescriptions were issued to him by another physician.

The board's investigation revealed no evidence that Fedele's conduct affected patient care or patient outcomes.

Fedele was ordered to participate in the New Hampshire Professionals Health Program, following all recommendations.

He has already completed a mandated eight hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME) focused on ethics; a 30-hour intensive program of CPE focused on controlled substance prescribing, and 24 hours of CME on professional boundaries.

According to the website of Atlantic Cardiology Associates, which is Fedele's practice, he earned his B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, his M.D. From Cornell University Medical School and attended Brown University Medical School for his postdoctoral training.


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