Mass. Medical Society Censures Doctors Who Recommended Hussain

Two doctors at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital (BHW) and one former BHW staff member who wrote letters of recommendation for a former colleague. Convicted rapist Dr. Arif Hussain were officially censured and placed on one year's probation by the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) yesterday.

The censure and probation were "short of expulsion the harshest disciplinary action society can hand down," spokesman Roxanne Hurley said yesterday.

Last summer Dr. Benjamin G. Cevino head of the Anesthesiology Department at BWH. Dr. Aaron J. Gissen professor of Anesthesia, and Dr. John A. Wark then a BWH staff member, wrote highly flattering recommendation for Hussain this did not mention his tape conviction the month before.

Hussain later used the recommendations to obtain a position on the anesthesiology staff of Buffalo Children's Hospital

Dr. Daniel C. Tosteson, dean of the Medical School, called the society's decision very understandable." and said that "to his knowledge" the MMS report would have no effect on Covino's and Gissen's status at BWH.

Tosteson Tuesday disclosed the recommendations of a Med School committee formed--after Covino's and Gissen's letters were revealed--at the request of President Bok to suggest guidelines for letters of reference.

In its report the committee favors a golden rule policy of leuer-writing which means that a letter should contain the information known to the writer which he would like to have he to receive the letter.

Tosteson said last night that because Covino's and Gissen letters were sistent with the golden rule policy. it is very understandable that the MMS could find their actions less than totally correct.

Cosino, Gissen and Wark, whoes now employed in Nevada were all unavailable for comment last night.

The official decision state that "the censure had no effect on their the doctors ability practice medicine.

Munier said it is a self-imposed by law of the society to report all disciplinary actions to the state licensing board," but he added that the society is "prepared to inform the board that we do not feel that nay restriction should be placed in their [the doctors] license.

The MMS is an independent professional organization has no direct role in issuing doctors licenses and Hussain was never a member.

Hurley said that if the society found the three doctors guilty of some additional misjudgment in the next year, they would "most likely" be expelled from the society--an action that could eventually cause the doctors to lose their licenses.

In December Covino had contested the release of the society's report. Covino's appeal was in the process of being reviewed last week Munier said.

BWH officials released a report in November on the letter writing incident that stated that covino and Gissen "trusted Dr. Hussain to reveal his legal status."

Tosteson said the BWH report places the onus both on the legal advice that the faculty members received [from hospital attorneys] and on the faculty members," Covino Gissen and Wark