CMS Chief Clinical Officer Tunis Agrees to One-Year Suspension From Practicing Medicine, Fine
CMS Chief Clinical Officer Sean Tunis has agreed to a one-year suspension from practicing medicine and a $20,000 fine for the falsification of documents related to the completion of continuing medical education courses, the Washington Post reports. Under a consent order dated May 25, Tunis also must complete an ethics course and 35 hours of CME (Connolly, Washington Post, 6/4).
The Maryland Board of Physicians in April charged Tunis with falsification of records, failure to comply with subpoenas and unprofessional conduct in the practice of medicine. According to the complaint, Tunis -- who works on a part-time basis in the emergency medicine department at Mercy Medical Center in Maryland -- used government supplies to falsify two CME certificates and sent the certificates to Mercy on Jan. 2, 2002. All practicing physicians must accumulate the required amount of CME credits to retain their medical licenses.
Tunis told the board that he falsified the two CME certificates but said that he did not send them to Mercy. According to Tunis, a CMS employee searched his office and faxed the certificates to Mercy.
CMS in April placed Tunis on administrative leave, under which he continued to receive pay (California Healthline, 4/6).
CMS officials on Friday did not comment on whether Tunis will remain as CCO of Medicare and director of the Office of Clinical Standards and Quality (Washington Post, 6/4). A spokesperson for Tunis said that he has resigned from his position at Mercy (AP/Baltimore Sun, 6/5).
Tunis said in a statement, "I decided to sign this order because I acknowledge that I made a mistake and I wish to accept responsibility for it," adding, "Now that this order is signed, I look forward to continuing my public service and my career in public health policy."
He said, "In nearly 20 years of medical practice, I have never been the subject of any complaint related to patient care and I have been diligent in maintaining my knowledge of clinical medicine" (Washington Post, 6/4).