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Medical School Investigating Drinking Incident

October 27, 1992

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) _ A doctor accused of taking a hospitalized patient out for a beer at a topless bar has been suspended from his job, officials said Tuesday.

Dr. Mark Horowitz, a resident in training from East Tennessee University, was suspended with pay from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Mountain Home after nurses reported the Oct. 20 outing, said Carl Gerber, director of the center.

The patient, Jimmy Hughes, 67, has had two strokes and cannot care for himself, according to his wife, Marie.

He is taking several prescription drugs that should not be combined with alcohol, but was drunk when he returned to the hospital, she said.

″I feel like it’s a big joke against us and there’s nothing I can do about it,″ Mrs. Hughes said. ″It could have been very hurtful.″

Dr. Louis Cancellaro, chief of staff at the VA hospital, said the outing had no effect on Hughes’ condition.

″I don’t have a list of his medications, but there is nothing in the preliminary investigation to show that it could be affected by alcohol,″ Cancellaro said.

Another doctor who also made the trip has not been identified, said Gerber and Elaine McClellan, a spokeswoman for the university’s medical school.

Mrs. Hughes said her husband called her the next morning because he was afraid someone else would tell her first.

″When he called me, I thought it was outrageous - that he was joking around,″ Mrs. Hughes said. ″I couldn’t believe anyone would jeopardize their career with something like that.″

Mrs. Hughes said her husband, who uses a wheelchair, didn’t ask to go to the bar and didn’t know where he was being taken until he got there. He has been in the hospital since Oct. 6, she said.

Horowitz did not return phone calls for comment Tuesday.

The school is investigating the incident and was expected to report to the dean, Dr. Paul Stanton, by the end of the week.

VA policy bars socialization between doctors and patients, Gerber said.

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