Lincoln Journal Star
Psychiatrist suspended, fined over relationship with patient
By Lori Pilger
August 11, 2017
The state has fined an Omaha psychiatrist who had worked at CenterPointe in Lincoln $10,000 and suspended his license for 30 days over an inappropriate relationship with a patient.
Dr. Leandro Anit Jr. agreed to the settlement and waived his right to a disciplinary hearing, according to documents on file with the Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health.
His suspension began a week ago.
Wednesday, CenterPointe President and CEO Topher Hansen called it little more than a slap on the wrist for what he saw as a serious breach of trust and intentional deceit to cover it up by Anit.
“These are major violations in my mind,” he said.
Anit, who is board-certified in general psychiatry and also can prescribe pain medications, had worked at CenterPointe, either full-time or on contract, from November 2014 to March 2017.
It was methadone prescriptions, which pharmacists had started refusing to fill believing Anit was dosing too high, that led to the investigation that uncovered the patient was living with him.
According to the petition for disciplinary action dated June 23, Anit began treating the woman in Lincoln in December 2015. By September 2016, she had moved in to his home in Omaha, Assistant Nebraska Attorney General Mindy Lester wrote. Anit’s records indicated she had transitioned from in-office, face-to-face meetings to video conferencing.
Lester said when Anit was interviewed by a investigator with the Department of Health and Human Services in January, he admitted they had an intimate relationship and that it was “definitely wrong” and “not professional.”
She said Anit also was continuing to prescribe the woman fentanyl, methadone and Adderall on a regular basis and having it sent to his Omaha address.
Hansen said once CenterPointe found out, it terminated the relationship with Anit immediately.
“I’m a big believer of operating at the highest ethic to take care of the people we’re serving because they’re so vulnerable in every aspect,” he said.
CenterPointe provides treatment for people suffering from mental and substance-use disorders.
In the petition for disciplinary action, Anit was accused of dishonorable conduct; immoral conduct; sexual abuse, misconduct or exploitation; and unprofessional conduct.
Last month, he admitted the allegations as part of the settlement that included the $10,000 fine and 30-day license suspension. He is also required to complete an ethics and boundaries program and another on prescribing controlled drugs.
On July 25, the settlement was approved by Dr. Thomas Williams, the state’s chief medical officer, after having been approved by the Board of Medicine and Surgery and the Attorney General’s office.
Hansen questioned if the fine and short suspension were enough to keep this from happening again.
“They’re the ones guarding the hen house,” he said of the state licensing board, “and they’re not doing a very good job of it.”
A spokeswoman for HHS declined to respond to the criticism, as did a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s office. And Kathie Osterman of HHS said she could not provide information about how the board members voted on the proposed settlement because that happened in a closed session.
Dr. Carl V. Smith, the chair of the Board of Medicine and Surgery, also declined to respond to criticism that the discipline wasn’t enough.
“Any deliberations that occur in closed session are confidential, and I am unable to discuss them,” he said Thursday by email.