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Fletcher Allen Neonatologist Enters Into Amended Stipulation With State Of Vermont Board Of Medical Practice

CONTACT: Cindy Maguire, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5512

January 5, 2012

Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced today that Anne M. Johnston, M.D., a Fletcher Allen neonatologist, entered into an Amended Stipulation with the Vermont Board of Medical Practice. The Amended Stipulation provides, among other things, that Dr. Johnston must engage in an approved substance abuse treatment plan until June 21, 2020 and that her license to practice medicine will be designated as “conditioned” during this time. There is a further condition prohibiting her from prescribing controlled substances.

As outlined in more detail in the affidavit of Phil Ciotti, which was attached to the Stipulation, the basis for the Stipulation was a pattern of conduct from April of 2009 until March of 2010. During this time, Dr. Johnston prescribed narcotics for non-existent patients and then had the prescriptions filled in various pharmacies in the Williston area for her own personal use. In June of 2010, Dr. Johnston voluntarily enrolled herself in the Vermont Practitioner Health Program, a treatment program designed specifically for members of the Vermont medical community with substance abuse issues.

At this time, Attorney General Sorrell has decided not to bring criminal charges against Dr. Johnston. The decision was made not only because of her self-referral to the Vermont Practitioner Health Program for ongoing substance abuse treatment, but also because of her specialized skills as a neonatologist – she is one of only five in the State – and her important contribution to the work performed at the neonatal unit at Fletcher Allen. Also, factoring into the decision not to prosecute was a meeting Attorney General Sorrell had with a number of Fletcher Allen personnel, each of whom stressed their strong support for Dr. Johnston.

Although not specifically part of the stipulation, Dr. Johnston has agreed to extend to 10 years the statutory period during which the State of Vermont may bring criminal charges against her based on the conduct described in Mr. Ciotti’s affidavit. “This was a close call decision. Dr. Johnston’s self-referral for help, the loss of her prescribing privileges and the quality and necessity of her work, as expressed by Fletcher Allen officials, led me to this course of action,” said Attorney General Sorrell.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.