Feed on

Dr Lawrence D. Egbert, 87, has lost the Maryland medical license he had held for more than 60 years after a disciplinary panel for the Maryland Board of Physicians found that he had engaged in “unprofessional conduct” while working as the medical director for the Final Exit Network, which offers aid to people “who are suffering from intolerable medical circumstances.”

State regulators said that Dr. Egbert had acted as what the network calls an exit guide for six people in Maryland from May 2004 to November 2008.

“Dr. Egbert reviewed their applications and medical records and recommended accepting them as members,” said the order, which was signed by Christine A. Farrelly, the executive director of the Board of Physicians. “Dr. Egbert attended their suicide rehearsals. He held each member’s hand and talked to him or her.”

Each of the patients died, the state said, of asphyxiation caused by helium inhalation, and Dr. Egbert “removed the hoods and helium tanks” from the places where the five women and one man died. Those patients had been diagnosed with conditions that included Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Dr. Egbert said he planned to appeal the board’s decision. “What we’re doing should be available to any patient with an incurable, horrible disease that they’ve tried everything on, and it doesn’t seem to work,” he said.

The state, he said, “misportrayed me” and was undermining what he defends as a constitutional right to “advise” people how to die.

In its order on Dec. 12, the Board of Physicians outlined four reasons it had deemed Dr. Egbert’s conduct unprofessional. The board said he had violated the American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics and that his activities were “illegal under Maryland law.” It is unclear whether Dr. Egbert will be prosecuted in Maryland.

Maryland regulators first charged Dr. Egbert with misconduct in late 2012, and an administrative law judge recommended more than a year later that he lose his medical license. Maryland records show that Dr. Egbert has not been disciplined within the last decade by other state medical boards.

The decision in Maryland is the latest effort by government agencies to sanction Dr. Egbert for his activities. Before he could stand trial in Georgia, the state’s Supreme Court voted to strike down the law under which he was being prosecuted. He was acquitted of criminal charges in Arizona. He is also facing prosecution in Minnesota.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.