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Santa Barbara Psychiatrist Faces Extended Probation for Medical Board Allegations

A local psychiatrist most likely will receive three more years of probation status after additional allegations from the Medical Board of California.

Dr. Neal Mazer has owned a Santa Barbara private practice since 2004 for child, adolescent and family psychiatry and previously worked with the county’s Multiagency Integrated System of Care.

He was placed on probation in 2010 for furnishing drugs without examination and failure to maintain adequate records, according to Medical Board documents, and was required to maintain access to his records, refrain from using controlled substances, submit to random urine testing, and take courses in prescribing practices and medical record keeping.

Last week, the board filed a petition to revoke his probation and take his license due to more allegations.

Mazer was in a relationship with a man for about 10 years and began counseling him and prescribing psycho-pharmaceuticals, according to the petition. This happened during his probationary period, and the board wanted a hearing to discuss further discipline.

“They filed an accusation against him over nothing because he was on probation at the time; it allows them to extend his probation,” said Joel Douglas, Mazer’s attorney from Bonne, Bridges, Mueller and O’Keefe of Los Angeles. “It was a pre-existing relationship that goes back to 2000. … They don’t want doctors treating people that they’re close with, so rather than fight it, (Dr. Mazer) just said ‘mea culpa’ and settled it.”

Douglas said the issue got reported to the Medical Board only because a third party got into a computer to see private emails and copies of medication. It was an issue of “an ex-lover causing trouble,” he said.

Douglas noted that there was no hearing as the parties reached a settlement for three more years of probation status. The decision isn’t final until the Medical Board adopts the settlement.

“He did very well during probation before and is a very good doctor,” Douglas said. “He is the go-to person, particularly with pediatric psychiatry.”

The probation came after allegations of negligence and failure to keep adequate records.

From 2005 to 2007, Mazer provided therapy and prescribed medication to a 16-year-old male with a history of substance abuse. The patient, identified merely as A.A., was prescribed Adderall, and Mazer started having sessions with the patient’s girlfriend, C.F., as well. There is no record of parental consent for treating the girl, who suffered from an eating disorder and substance abuse, according to documents.

Mazer also reportedly gave the couple his credit card number for a hotel room in Los Angeles one night, made house visits and prescribed drugs without parental consent. He also had not reported the girl’s condition and lack of parental supervision to Child Protective Services.

One incident in 2007 prompted a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department report and subsequent Medical Board investigation.

Mazer prescribed Valium and Darvocet — which includes a narcotic pain reliever and acetaminophen — to the male client for back pain, apparently without parental consent or a back examination. The client reportedly said the pain was from carrying his girlfriend up and down stairs.

He was at a home visit when the girlfriend was in respiratory distress, with pale skin, bluish nails and was “lying in bed with her head back on a pillow with eyes looking upward,” documents state. There were empty pill bottles from the drugs Mazer prescribed. The next day, the girl was “hospitalized and comatose.”

Investigators “focused on (Mazer) for prescribing Valium and Darvocet without parental consent to a minor with a known history of substance abuse.”

Mazer had also been prescribing controlled substances and psychiatric medications to himself over a period of years, the investigation revealed. Medical Board members determined that the psychiatrist had been negligent, prescribed without adequate evaluation and failed to maintain adequate records — not getting parental consent for some treatment and prescriptions, or prescriptions to himself.

The Medical Board licenses and regulates physicians, sometimes conducting in-depth investigations in response to complaints. Certain information about physicians and surgeons — such as licensing, disciplinary action and felony convictions — can be found on the board’s website.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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