Health & Family

Doctor's license suspended

The N.C. Medical Board has suspended the license of a Presbyterian Hospital anesthesiologist for 60 days because he lied about his alcohol and drug dependency in past communications with the board.

In an order signed Friday, Dr. Stephen Victor Mendoza, 39, agreed to the suspension, from Sept. 1 to Oct. 30. He is also on probation for two years, beginning immediately.

On his application for a medical license in 2002 and in a board interview, the consent order says, Mendoza denied ever having been convicted of traffic violations and ever being told he was impaired as the result of alcohol or drug use.

To the contrary, the order says, Mendoza had been arrested for driving while intoxicated in October 1987 and for public intoxication in 1997. Both arrests occurred in Texas, and he paid a fine in connection with the second, the board said.

On his annual license renewal application in 2006, the board said, Mendoza failed to disclose that he had been arrested for disorderly conduct in Pennsylvania on Jan. 1, 2006.

The consent order, signed by both Mendoza and the board, says he “suffers from alcohol dependence and has been afflicted with this condition for his adult life.”

Mendoza referred himself to the N.C. Physicians Health Program, a counseling program for doctors with behavioral problems, and he completed a 28-day inpatient treatment program earlier this year, the board said. As part of the consent order, Mendoza also agreed to continue with counseling, refrain from using alcohol and mind-altering substances, and to submit to random drug tests.

Through the hospital, Mendoza said in a statement: “I regret my actions, and I am eager to move forward in an honest and professional manner.”

Presbyterian's chief medical officer, Dr. Thomas Zweng, issued a written statement, calling Mendoza a valued member of the staff.

“Patient safety and quality of care have never been an issue,” Zweng said. “Dr. Mendoza is successfully engaged in rehabilitation programs…. Presbyterian Hospital's leadership team is actively engaged in partnership with the N.C. Medical Board and Dr. Mendoza as he continues to participate in these ongoing programs.”