State Medical Board Disciplines Former Cape Cod Healthcare Chief

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By: Laura M. Reckford
Published: 11/18/11

 Dr. Richard F. Salluzzo, former CEO of Cape Cod Healthcare, was disciplined by the state Board of Registration in Medicine this week for using drugs prescribed to others for his own use and prescribing drugs to family members without keeping proper records.

Dr. Salluzzo, 60, resigned one year ago from Cape Cod Healthcare after serving as president and chief executive officer of the Cape’s largest health care entity since July 2008.

According to Russell D. Aims, chief of staff of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, the board became aware of the transgression from Dr. Salluzzo himself. Mr. Aims responded in an e-mail that it is not unusual for the investigation of such cases to take more than a year because of the need to go through large amounts of pharmacy records and interview numerous people.

Dr. Salluzzo was not reachable for comment.

At the time of his departure from the job, Dr. Salluzzo was credited with turning Cape Cod Healthcare around through reorganization plans that included a large amount of layoffs. Dr. Salluzzo said that the reason for his departure was that he had achieved the goals set out for him and was moving on to pursue other career challenges.

On Wednesday, the board of medicine reprimanded Dr. Salluzzo and fined him $3,000.

Dr. Salluzzo is a 1978 graduate of Tufts University Medical School and is board certified in internal medicine. He has been licensed in Massachusetts since 1988.

Among the allegations in the board’s investigation of Dr. Salluzzo are that in 2008, before he started at Cape Cod Healthcare, he wrote four prescriptions for Valium for an employee working under him and then asked the employee to fill the prescriptions and give him the drugs. In 2009, while holding the top job at Cape Cod Healthcare, he wrote prescriptions for Zoloft for a friend and filled the prescriptions for his own use.

According to the board’s allegations, he also wrote prescriptions for controlled substances for his wife, his two adult children and his father but did not keep medical records for the family members.

In disciplining Dr. Salluzzo for those actions, the board cites the American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics that “physicians should not treat themselves or family members as professional objectivity may be compromised and issues of patient autonomy and informed consent may arise.”

In a consent order, Dr. Salluzzo agreed to the ruling and punishment, signing the document on November 1.

The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine licenses more than 40,000 physicians, osteopaths and acupuncturists. The board was created in 1894 to protect the public health and safety by setting standards for the practice of medicine and ensuring that doctors who practice in the state are appropriately qualified and competent.
Cape Cod Healthcare’s board of directors, in a press release, stated, “We became aware of a complaint and followed our established policies to ensure that the licensing board was involved in this matter on a timely basis. We then cooperated fully with the Board of Medicine’s investigation.”

The board notes that the Board of Medicine discipline concerns Dr. Salluzzo’s private practice and not his management performance.

“No complaint was ever reported or filed by any patients or physicians here regarding the quality of the clinical care provided by Dr. Salluzzo during his tenure on the medical staff of both CCHC hospitals,” according to the statement.

The board reiterated its statement last year about Dr. Salluzzo’s tenure at the hospital. “He achieved the goals set for him as witnessed by our financial turnaround and improved relationships with our physicians, then decided to pursue other career challenges and professional interests.”

But it did indicate a divergence in the two sides’ goals for the future. “Dr. Salluzzo believed that the key to the future of health care was consolidation while CCHC’s board felt, and continues to believe, that it’s important to honor our mission by continuing to serve our community through local governance and control, and by maintaining an independently viable Cape-based system,” according to the board’s statement.

The board stated that because it is a personnel matter, it could not provide additional comments and suggested contacting Dr. Salluzzo, but Cape Cod Healthcare spokesman David T. Reilly said he did not know Dr. Salluzzo’s whereabouts.

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