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Pharmacy Choice - Pharmaceutical News - Ocean County pediatrician settles with state in vaccine-related case Ocean County pediatrician settles with state in vaccine-related case - March 17, 2018

Pharmacy News Article

 5/4/17 - Ocean County pediatrician settles with state in vaccine-related case Ocean County pediatrician settles with state in vaccine-related case

STAFFORD TOWNSHIP - Medical experts say children treated at an Ocean County pediatrician's office did receive effective vaccines after state investigators said the vaccines may have been compromised.

State Deputy Attorney General Bindi Merchant and Medicaid Fraud Division investigators alleged earlier this year that Dr. Michael Bleiman and his practice, Southern Ocean Pediatrics and Family Medicine in Manahawkin, gave children vaccines that were stored at improper temperatures and thus possibly ineffective.

Bleiman agreed to pay $156,220 in civil penalties and update office procedures.

But a project by Southern Ocean Medical Center found patients vaccinated at Bleiman's practice between November 2014 and October had appropriate levels of immunity against diseases, said Dr. Theodore Zalenski, vice president of clinical effectiveness at the hospital.

The project was enabled any concerned parent in the community to get their children tested for vaccine immunizations, including children treated at Bleiman's practice, Zalenski said.

"All of the (tested) kids vaccinated were immune, so we recommended that they just go back into the normal pattern for vaccinations," Zalenski said.

The vaccines in question were administered to children as part of Vaccines for Children, a federally funded, state-operated program that provides 1.6 million free or low-cost vaccines annually to eligible low-income children in New Jersey.

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The Medicaid Fraud Division temporarily suspended Bleiman on Jan. 27 from treating patients in Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare programs after a routine investigation found childhood vaccines for chickenpox, rubella, mumps, measles and other diseases were stored at improper temperatures.

Merchant and the Office of the Attorney General alleged in a Jan. 9 complaint to the state Board of Medical Examiners the possibly compromised vaccines were administered to children between November 2014 and Oct. 24.

"They (vaccines) were not given knowingly," Bleiman said. "I or anybody in this office would never intentionally hurt a child."

Bleiman agreed to pay the fines to the Medicaid Fraud Division in an April 27 settlement for incorrect Medicaid billing and reimbursement payments for the administration of vaccines, related pediatric office visits and hospital inpatient care.

The practice maintained "there has been no further evidence that (Vaccines for Children)-supplied vaccines were compromised" in the official settlement agreement.

Bleiman has treated children and families as a pediatrician for more than 20 years in New Jersey. He has no history of medical board actions against him, according to state records.

Zalenski likened his colleague's giving and attentive nature to the famed Patch Adams, and said he has a long history of treating families in the community.

"When someone has no insurance, he takes care of them," Zalenski said. "He's one of those that will follow the Hippocratic oath exactly."

Bleiman and his practice were still permitted to treat other patients during the temporary suspension. The practice now can resume treating patients in the Medicaid program, according the State Comptroller's Office.

Southern Ocean Pediatrics and Family Medicine will keep accurate records in the future by using updated electronic medical record software, and use new digital thermometers that will alert health providers if and when storage temperatures go out of range, according to the settlement.

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Contact:609-272-7022 Twitter @ACPressNLeonard

© Copyright, 2017, The Press of Atlantic City. All rights reserved.

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