Mary Hill owns a Tulsa dog hotel and pet groomer. Years ago, she found herself in the dog grooming chair. This time she was the one getting shaved by the groomer.
"I had about maybe two dozen stray hairs that for some reason or another just wouldn't fall out," said Mary Hill.
Mary had stage two breast cancer.
"The type of cancer I had was easy to detect but real hard to get rid of," said Hill.
As she faced the hardest battle in her life, having a good primary doctor was important to Mary. She entrusted Doctor Douglas Brown with that role for years.
"There were several times I had issues and went in, and he knew immediately what it was," said Hill.
Then suddenly, one day, Mary says Dr. Brown was gone.
The 2NEWS Investigators first told you about the missing doctor in June. The Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision says the doctor closed his office in April. The doctor told us he was seeking treatment but didn't say for what.
We pulled Dr. Brown's record with the medical board and found his medical license was suspended in 2005 for a narcotics violation and sexual misconduct. Four months later his license was reinstated and he was placed on a five year probation, which ended in 2010. He is still licensed to practice. According to the medical board's website, Dr. Brown is working at a clinic in McAlester. A receptionist told us he is seeing patients. We reached out to Dr. Brown, but he did not return our calls.
The 2NEWS Investigators went digging to see just how many doctors have violations with the state medical board. We obtained all violations statewide since January 2008. Disciplinary actions range from a reprimand to a revocation to a permanent revocation.
In 2004, the state legislature added a new disciplinary category called a "permanent revocation." It means a doctor can never have his/her license back. Kelsey says only one doctor has ever received a permanent revocation. The way the law works if the medical board revokes a license, a simple revocation only lasts a year, it's the permanent one that sticks forever.
If a doctor's license is revoked, the doctors can reapply for his/her license after one year.
The 2NEWS Investigators uncovered 60 doctors who have been disciplined for narcotics or substance abuse, including Dr. Brown. Most of the disciplines for a narcotics violation include suspensions or revocations.
Despite those disciplines, we found 42 of the 60 doctors disciplined still have an active license.
The Investigators dug deeper. We found 18 doctors who've been disciplined for sexual misconduct, half of them still are fully licensed to practice today.
There's more. The 2NEWS Investigators also uncovered ten doctors with felony convictions. We asked the medical board executive director, Lyle Kelsey, what happens when a doctor is convicted of a felony.
"Pretty much automatically revoked with a felony," said Kelsey.
But remember if a doctor's license is revoked, the revocation only lasts a year.
"With a felony conviction you can practice medicine," said Kelsey.
It is happening. The 2NEWS Investigators found three doctors with felony convictions that are still licensed to practice. At the time of their convictions, all of the doctors were disciplined by the board. However, now three have their licenses back to practice medicine.
If doctors do practice again, they have to tell the medical board and places they work about their conviction. However, the state does not require these doctors to tell their patients that they have been disciplined by the board, convicted by a court or served time behind bars.
"I wish they did have to tell them. There's no legal requirement so they don't have to," said Kelsey.
You can look up information on your doctor on the medical board's website, or you can see if there are criminal or civil cases against your doctor by going to the Oklahoma Supreme Court Network's website.
It's just what Mary says she's doing as she searches for a new primary care doctor.
She's been cancer-free now for almost 20 years and hopes her new primary care doctor will help keep her that way for years to come.
If you are a former patient of Dr. Brown's and still need your medical records, you can call the Oklahoma Medical Board at 405-962-1400 Ext. 145.