A Westport plastic surgeon who is on probation and was fined $29,000 in 2011 has had his center’s license temporarily suspended after state inspectors found several new violations, including rusty equipment and instruments and a fire alarm system that had not worked for five months.
Under a June 20 consent order with the state Department of Public Health, Dr. Joel B. Singer agreed to the suspension of the license of his Center for Ambulatory Surgery in Westport through July 29. The order states that the violations “may pose a health risk to the public.”
During surprise inspections between March 21 to 28, inspectors found a rusty autoclave used to sterilize instruments, rusty instruments, an unlocked refrigerator containing medications and worn-out brushes being used to clean instruments, records show.
Donna M. Ortelle of DPH’s Facility Licensing and Investigations Section, outlined the violations in a June 4 letter to Singer. Diana Lejardi, a DPH spokeswoman, said that the center will be able to provide more information if it wants to dispute the findings.
Inspectors found that the fire alarm control panel in the center’s basement was broken and water damaged, Ortelle wrote. There was no documentation that the Westport fire marshal had been informed or that a fire watch had been in place – as is required when fire alarms aren’t working – when the center was open, Ortelle wrote.
In a review of records in March, inspectors found that one registered nurse, instead of the required two, was present at the center during plastic surgery procedures on Dec. 20, 2012. They also found cases in which patients were given painkillers and antibiotics after surgery without a doctor’s order, Ortelle’s letter said.
Ortelle also wrote that no documentation was provided that 10 employees had been trained in how to prevent infections.
Singer was performing a procedure at his Great Neck, N.Y. center Tuesday afternoon and could not be reached for comment.
Over the past several years, the health department has cited Singer for multiple violations against his physician’s license and against the Westport center he owns, which also goes by the name of Imperial Plastic Surgery. In May 2011, the health department cited the center and imposed a $4,000 fine.
In December 2011, Singer was fined $25,000 by the state Medical Examining Board for operating the center with sloppy record keeping and rusty and dirty equipment.
In March 2012, inspectors who visited the plastic surgery center found several violations, including unqualified nurses, slipshod record keeping, improper sterilization procedures and unsanitary conditions.
Singer, a 1966 graduate of Yale University’s medical school, has faced sanctions from the state dating back to 1999.
In a July 1999 consent order, Singer agreed to one year’s probation for inserting implants of different sizes into a patient during breast augmentation surgery. The patient’s record was altered to say that the implants were the same size, the consent order said.
In a May 2007 consent order, the state fined him $5,000 for a case of “incompetence/negligence.” He admitted to lapses in documenting post-surgical conversations between himself and a patient after complications ensued following her breast reduction surgery. The patient required a second operation after failing to heal properly.
Based on Connecticut’s actions, New York and California officials have also reprimanded or fined Singer because he has licenses to practice in those states as well.
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