Popular New Jersey Medical Marijuana Prescriber Dr. Andrew Medvedovsky Suspended, Reaction from Ken Wolski
Karen Berger, PharmD, Medical Writer
What are other healthcare providers saying about this politicized action? Hear from Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director for the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey.
New Jersey medical marijuana patients are abuzz with the news of the suspension of the popular Dr. Andrew Medvedovsky. The state Board of Medical Examiners has suspended Medvedovsky’s license for negligently authorizing medical cannabis out of six medical practices in New Jersey.
Dr. Medvedovsky’s license is suspended for two years for numerous acts of “negligence, malpractice or incompetence” after he continued to authorize patients to use medical marijuana without adhering to the NJMMP guidelines.
Apparently, Dr. Medvedovsky did not establish the required patient-physician relationships. He did not take patient histories or perform physical exams, and he did not monitor patients or maintain appropriate records. (Our MyCureAll app will ensure the patient/physician relationship through HIPAA-compliant documentation of medical examinations, face-to-face communication, vitals, session notes, and use of our Canna-Meter.)
Medvedovsky owned six medical practices under New Jersey Alternative Medicine (now called Canna Care Docs). The practices are located in Turnersville, Linwood, Moorestown, Princeton, Nutley, and Oakhurst.
According to the order, Medvedovsky will be suspended for one year and on probation for another year, in addition to paying almost $60,000 in fines and fees.
I reached out to Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, and Executive Director for the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey, for his reaction. Wolski’s take: “Maybe his record-keeping was flawed, but he didn’t hurt patients, he helped them.” Wolski states that Dr. Medvedovsky helped many patients gain access to the medical marijuana program, which was overly restrictive in its early years.
Wolski says that only about 3% of licensed physicians in the state have registered as medical marijuana prescribers in the NJMMP. Advanced Practice Nurses and Physician Assistants cannot prescribe medical marijuana at this time.
“Harm is something physicians should never do to patients. Yet patients are harmed by efforts to prevent or delay access to medical marijuana. The opposition to a tightly regulated production facility for a medicinal herb is most cruel. It is certain to result in a continued delay in bringing marijuana’s therapeutic relief to our state’s most desperately ill. It is certain to cause harm to patients. I am most concerned about the opposition of physicians to this program. Physicians take an oath not to harm patients, yet these delays in implementing this program will undoubtedly harm patients,” Wolski says.
Wolski shared a personal experience where a Stage IV pancreatic cancer patient reached out to him. The patient’s oncologist had said she had “no intention” of participating in the MMP. The patient asked Wolski, “Can she do that?”
Wolski says, “I thought it disgraceful that a physician would refuse a patient his dying wish. It speaks of arrogance and paternalism that is unbecoming the profession. I understand that there is a great deal of ignorance among physicians about marijuana’s effects on the body. The recent discovery of the endocannabinoid system—in part, a series of receptors in every organ of the human body for cannabinoids, the components of marijuana—makes it unlikely to be taught in medical school.”
Because of this, Wolski says, physicians may not understand how marijuana can help so many patients with various diseases, symptoms, and conditions. “It can help control nausea and pain associated with cancer, and indeed, these are mentioned explicitly in the law as qualifying conditions in New Jersey. It is an outrage that physicians would disqualify otherwise qualified patients from participating in the Medicinal Marijuana Program, simply by virtue of their unwillingness to ‘get with the program,’” Wolski says.
“Physicians do harm by blocking access to medication that could relieve patients’ suffering, especially when nothing else is working for them or when the patient cannot tolerate traditional therapy. Those patients do not need years of research. They need immediate access to the potential benefits of marijuana therapy, especially given its excellent safety profile. The federal government has been blocking research into the benefits of marijuana therapy for decades, so it is rather late in the game to be insisting on years, or even more decades, of delay. When traditional anticonvulsant medications fail, and even brain surgery fails to control potentially life-threatening seizures, it is simply cruel to deny these patients access to medical marijuana.”
Wolski believes there is a real need for physicians to be educated about the benefits of medical cannabis, and it needs to happen very soon.
“That’s where nurses differ – caring is an art and a science to nurses. We practice it as a profession, not as a business,” Wolski says.
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