Health Care

JoCo doctor and chiropractor barred from working at IV vitamin and mineral clinics

The Kansas medical licensing board has instructed a doctor and chiropractor to temporarily stop working at a clinic in Overland Park that gives intravenous infusions of vitamins and minerals.

In emergency orders issued last week, the Kansas Board of Healing Arts said the clinic’s advertising overstated the health benefits of such infusions and it didn’t have procedures in place to make sure the IVs are given safely.

The orders restrict chiropractor Tara Zeller and medical doctor Angela Garner from practicing at IV Nutrition, 6301 W. 135th St. “or any substantially similar IV therapy clinic,” until further licensing hearings can be held.

“There is reasonable cause to believe that grounds exist for disciplinary action and the person’s immediate continuation in practice would constitute an imminent danger to the public health and safety,” the board’s presiding officer, Robin Durrett, wrote in orders pertaining to Zeller and Garner.

Brian Niceswanger, an Overland Park lawyer representing the two medical providers, said the allegations of unsafe conditions at the clinic are false and he hasn’t seen any advertising materials like the ones the board alleges the clinic improperly used.

Elective IV clinics, including some that make house calls, have been popping up around the Kansas City area in recent years, despite debate about them within the medical community. The treatments carry risks of infection, allergic reaction or drug interactions and some doctors say there are few proven benefits to taking vitamin supplements, orally or intravenously.

The orders pertaining to Zeller and Garner come two months after the Kansas medical board entered into a consent order with another doctor, Meredith Leach Snyder, for improper record-keeping and a lack of protocols for handling complications at her elective IV business in Kansas City. The board gave Snyder a “nondisciplinary public action,” which is more or less a warning, and ordered her to take extra continuing education classes in medical record-keeping.

Niceswanger said Zeller and Garner currently have a hearing with the board scheduled for Jan. 18.

According to the board’s order, the IV Nutrition clinic’s advertising included unproven claims that IV therapy could “treat auto immune issues, allergies, hormonal issues, short bowel syndrome and other medical conditions.”

It also says that Zeller and Garner failed to ensure that the clinic was giving specific and controlled doses of supplements like magnesium, which can have harmful side effects in high doses, especially for people with kidney problems.

Niceswanger said that’s not true, but the board’s investigators “never asked for the right stuff” that would have proved otherwise.

“The facility has had formulated orders and standing orders in place the entire time,” Niceswanger said.

The Garner order states that clinic staff performed an IV infusion for a customer who came into the clinic with nausea and vomiting and didn’t get properly examined for those symptoms.

Niceswanger said that’s also false. The customer in question, he said, didn’t get nauseous until the IV drip was already underway.

“At which point they were promptly referred to, I think it was, the emergency room,” Niceswanger said. “Might have been urgent care.”

According to documents filed in April with the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office, IV Nutrition is co-owned by Zeller and Jason Fechter, another chiropractor. The board didn’t issue any order related to Fechter.

Niceswanger said most of the infusions at the Overland Park clinic, which was open Friday, are done by paramedics and nurses. Garner served in a supervisory role as one of several medical directors at the clinic, he said, and Zeller’s role in administering the IV drips was even smaller.

“Dr. Zeller had absolutely no clinical role in overseeing activities at the facility,” Niceswanger said.

Kansas City Star health reporter Andy Marso was part of a Pulitzer Prize-finalist team at The Star and previously won state and regional awards at the Topeka Capital-Journal and Kansas Health Institute News Service. He has written two books, including one about his near-fatal bout with meningitis.