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Surgeon surrenders license, avoiding sanctions

He wants to avoid testimony in next phase, lawyer says

Published: Tuesday, March 7 2000 4:32 p.m. MST

Plastic surgeon Wesley Grant Harline surrendered his license to practice medicine Monday, a day before a scheduled sanctions hearing for violations that allegedly resulted in the death of a 76-year-old man last year.

Through his attorneys, Harline submitted his license along with a letter tendering his offer to surrender to the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing hours after U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball denied Harline's motion for a preliminary injunction. During a motion hearing Friday, Harline argued the state had violated his rights to due process and an impartial evaluation.

DOPL is not required to accept Harline's offer, but director A. Gary Bowen accepted the motion, legally terminating Harline's ability to practice as a physician and surgeon and to prescribe and administer controlled substances, with the provision that the surrender was "based on the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law" arising from a liability hearing last month.

"This surrender and revocation is made to avoid the necessity of proceeding with the sanctions phase of the hearing," the order of revocation states.

At the conclusion of the disciplinary hearing, Bowen concluded that a combination of excessive sedatives, lack of oxygen and an untrained staff contributed to the death of 76-year-old Felix A. LeMond while undergoing a face lift.

Among the points of negligence, Bowen's findings state that during the Aug. 13, 1997, surgery, Harline failed to provide LeMond with supplemental oxygen even though LeMond had been excessively sedated. Harline's attorneys say LeMond failed to disclose a previous heart condition, which was likely the cause of the cardiac arrest.

Harline agreed to surrender his license due to his age and desire to spend more time with his family but still refutes the allegations, attorney Bruce Reading said.

"Most physicians retire 20 years ago," Reading said.

"That sanctions phase was going to bring up issues and testimony we particularly did not want to participate in, and he though it would best at this juncture that he pursue his other interests."

Harline, 78, had been practicing cosmetic surgery for nearly 50 years.

This was the fifth time in 23 years that he had been investigated by DOPL for alleged unprofessional conduct. Four times his license was sanctioned. He was put on probation twice in December 1977 and again in January 1985, for five years and three years, respectively; suspended from practicing for 90 days in March 1985; and again put on five years probation in 1996.

Those actions came after officials alleged Harline inappropriately prescribed controlled substances to patients, including a juvenile without parental consent; performed second-trimester abortions in his clinic instead of a hospital as required by law; performed surgeries without medical justification or patient consent; and over-prescribed stimulants for weight-loss purposes.

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