ER physician, accused of using drugs while on duty, loses his license

The state of Iowa has suspended the license of an emergency room physician who appeared to be under the influence of drugs while treating patients at an Iowa hospital and Omaha clinic.

The same doctor is now accused of continuing to practice medicine in Nebraska while his license there is suspended.

The Iowa Board of Medicine alleged that Dr. Maman L. Ali was working in the emergency room at St. Anthony Regional Hospital in Carroll on Feb. 12 when a housekeeper entered a room set aside for doctors on call and found a vial. Medicines and a needle placed on the table.

The housekeeper called a supervisor who found several more drugs, a needle and a half-filled syringe. It was then observed that Ali was behaving strangely and moving strangely and appeared to be disabled. The supervisor contacted the hospital’s chief medical officer, who spoke with Ali.

According to the medicine board, Ali admitted to the chief medical officer that he had been taking drugs by injecting himself in the neck for the past few months. He was then sent home. Board documents do not indicate whether the hospital tested Ali for drug use.

Report: ‘The doctor was foaming at the mouth’

Three days after that incident, police received a report of a possible drug overdose at Miracle Hills Golf Course in Omaha. Witnesses reported Ali sitting in his car, shaking and foaming at the mouth, with a needle sticking out of his arm and his eyes rolled back in his head. The engine revved as if Ali had his foot on the gas pedal.

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Ali was taken to a hospital, where he admitted that he had injected himself with two drugs. However, Ali’s physician did not believe that Ali was forthcoming about all the drugs he was taking, and suspected Ali of abusing ketamine, a drug that induces a trance-like state.

Police reportedly found eight different drugs, $4,000 and an assortment of medical equipment in Ali’s car. He was charged with driving while under the influence.

Six weeks after the incident on the golf course, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services issued an order immediately suspending Ali’s license to practice in that state. In May, it issued a final order suspending Ali’s license for 15 months.

Nebraska state records indicate that last December, Ali allegedly returned from lunch at Omaha’s Miracle Hills Clinic, which he owns and is apparently disabled, behaving in a manner that was loud, boisterous and confused. He allegedly bumped into walls several times, and after showing signs of having trouble working with patients, staff had to re-direct him.

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A video surveillance camera was later installed at the clinic that allegedly captured footage of Ali entering the clinic on multiple occasions and removing ketamine from a supply cabinet.

Nebraska state records indicate that clinic staff later told federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents that for several months, Ali appeared to be self-medicating during his lunch break and then returning to the clinic to treat patients. In one case, clinic staff alleged, Ali was seen lying on the floor with a child who had been brought in for treatment. He was also trying to treat patients who weren’t there to see him and had trouble speaking, staff allege.

In March 2022, Ali submitted to a drug test that showed “extremely high” levels of alcohol and ketamine in his system. The entity that evaluated Ali concluded, according to Nebraska state records, “Maman Ali is not safe to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety.”

The doctor is now accused of practicing without a license

The 2022 incident was not the first in which Ali was involved. The Iowa Board of Medicine alleges that in April 2020, Ali was found in his car with the engine running and several bottles of alcohol on the front seat console. His blood-alcohol level was measured at .149, well over the legal limit for driving.

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In May 2022, citing actions by Nebraska regulators, the Iowa Board of Medicine charged Ali with substance abuse, practicing in a manner that is harmful to the public and unprofessional conduct. At the time, the board also suspended Ali’s license to practice medicine in Iowa.

Recently, the board finalized its actions in the case and suspended Ali’s license indefinitely, noting that he cannot apply for reinstatement until the Nebraska license suspension is lifted. He then has the burden of showing that reinstatement of his Iowa license is in the public interest.

If Ali’s Iowa license is reinstated, it will be subject to several conditions and a five-year probationary period.

Two weeks ago, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services accused Ali of continuing to practice medicine under suspension, and it sent him a cease-and-desist letter.

The department alleges that in April and May, after his suspension took effect, Ali wrote nine new prescriptions for one patient and provided sample drugs to another patient.

This article first appeared in the Iowa Capital Dispatch, a sister newsroom of the Nebraska Examiner.

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