Bakersfield doctor publicly reprimanded by state medical board over record keeping

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The state’s medical board has issued a public reprimand against a Bakersfield doctor for prescribing drugs to multiple patients at risk of dangerous side effects without documenting warnings or maintaining “adequate and accurate” records, board documents say.

Dr. Arun Kumar Softa has also been ordered to enroll in a medical record-keeping course and a course on prescribing practices that is board-approved, according to a disciplinary order issued last month and that took effect Monday. Failure to comply could result in further disciplinary action.

Softa could not immediately be reached at several numbers linked to him.

The order settles a formal accusation filed with the board in 2020 that involved four patients. Two causes of discipline were listed: repeated negligent acts and medical record keeping.

One patient, a 65-year-old man with low back pain, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes and other ailments was prescribed a sedative, pain reliever and muscle relaxer by Softa over a months-long period, according to the accusation. He prescribed the drugs without documenting a pain management agreement/contract, or documenting a review of a report of controlled substances prescribed for the patient, the accusation says.

“(Softa) prescribed long-term narcotics to Patient A, in combination with sedatives, which placed him at a high risk for respiratory depression, or death, without obtaining a pain management contract and/or documenting review of a CURES (Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System) report,” the accusation says. “(Softa) did not follow pain management guidelines related to his prescribing of controlled substances to Patient A, despite Patient A’s multiple risk factors and simultaneous use of narcotics and sedatives.”

Another patient, a 56-year-old woman referred to as Patient D in the accusation, had low back pain, sleep apnea, obesity, depression and other medical problems, according to the accusation. She also was prescribed narcotics and sedatives. The patient said she occasionally drank tequila.

Her medical history included conditions that increased her risk for dangerous side effects — including respiratory depression and death, according to the accusation.

“In addition, Patient D’s conditions included sleep apnea and obesity, which increased her risk of respiratory depression even more,” the accusation says. “(Softa) did not document any specific warnings to Patient D regarding these risks, what side effects to be aware of, or the need to avoid combining alcohol in combination with her narcotics and sedatives.”

The accusation says Softa’s prescribing and monitoring of the drugs for Patient D constituted negligence.

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