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Chiropractor appeals sanctions

Dr. William Harrington, a Sunnyside chiropractor, has filed an appeal to a recent Washington State Department of Health Chiropractic Quality Assurance Commission decision that put Harrington on probation for four years.

The Commission found that Harrington failed to re-examine patients or documents his re-examination of patients at reasonable intervals. Besides the four-year probation period, the Commission also ordered Harrington to pay a fine of $10,000, hire a clinical monitor for a minimum of one year, and be subjected to practice review three times during the probationary period and two times per year thereafter.

"What is important to note is that there is no question as to the quality of care Dr. Harrington has rendered," Robert Zielke, the lawyer representing Harrington, said. "That's never been a question. This is a documentation issue."

Harrington was put on probation in 2005 for failing to document his patients' exams and re-examinations.

Zielke said that in order for Harrington to become compliant with the Commission's regulations he hired a certified coder from a Seattle law firm to check all of his records.

Zielke explained that the rules governing the documentation are generalized so the certified coder was reviewing Harrington's charts to make sure everything was in order.

While this was going on an audit of his charts was found to be acceptable except for the documentation on the exams and re-examinations. The way the charting was being done wasn't the way the Commission wanted the charts to be completed.

"It is our position that the examinations and re-examinations were done correctly," said Zielke. "Dr. Harrington was doing everything he could do to stay compliant. The Commission wants him to document his exams and re-examinations in better detail. Our appeal is that his records are detailed enough."

Papers filed in the appeal state the Commission has virtually no evidence that Harrington failed to perform re-examinations at reasonable intervals. Instead the Commission references the possible risks associated with not performing re-examinations as the basis for unprofessional conduct.

All of the patients implicated in the audit testified on behalf of Harrington, according to Zeilke, but claim the Commission gave their testimony little weight.

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