Health Care

Kansas is on ‘crusade against chiropractors,’ says owner of JoCo vitamin IV business

The Kansas Board of Healing Arts last week instructed a doctor and and chiropractor to temporarily stop working at IV Nutrition, 6301 W. 135th St., Overland Park, and other clinics like it that give intravenous infusions of vitamins and minerals.
The Kansas Board of Healing Arts last week instructed a doctor and and chiropractor to temporarily stop working at IV Nutrition, 6301 W. 135th St., Overland Park, and other clinics like it that give intravenous infusions of vitamins and minerals.

The co-owner of an Overland Park vitamin IV business claims she was sanctioned by the Kansas medical board not because her business had unsafe practices but because the board is biased against chiropractors.

The Kansas Board of Healing Arts issued an emergency order in December barring Tara Zeller from working at IV Nutrition, 6301 W. 135th St., or similar IV therapy clinics, while it investigated allegations of improper advertising and unsafe practices there.

The board reached an agreement with her this month allowing her to work at the clinic, but with several conditions. Zeller said that she signed the agreement mainly to avoid further legal expenses and that the board made “false claims” against her in the emergency order.

“They really did a lot of things that were not proper and made a lot of statements that were based on nothing or extreme interpretations,” Zeller said.

Zeller, in formal response documents filed with the board, said the emergency order was “less about IV Nutrition and all about the Kansas Board’s crusade against chiropractors,” which she linked to a “conspiracy by organized medicine to prevent and/or eliminate chiropractic practice.”

Dr. Meredith Leach Snyder operates Recovery Hydration Therapy, which offers elective IV services. Dr. Snyder is not associated with IV Nutrition, or the two doctors who were barred from working for IV Nutrition.

The Kansas Board of Healing Arts regulates doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, radiology technicians and other medical providers. Three of its 15 members are chiropractors, including its current vice president, Steven Gould of Cheney.

The board’s general counsel, Tucker Poling, said Zeller’s allegations were without merit.

“The orders issued in this case were appropriate and consistent with the board’s mission of public protection,” Poling said. “The only bias the board has is a bias in favor of patient safety.”

Elective IV treatments for things like hangovers and general wellness began in Las Vegas and have since spread nationwide, despite skepticism from medical experts who say the procedures have little or no proven benefit and, like all IVs, carry risk of serious infection.

Now several companies in the Kansas City area provide elective IVs, at wellness spas and sometimes in clients’ homes. But medical boards on both sides of the state line have kept an eye on the people running the businesses, whether they’re doctors or chiropractors.

The Missouri medical board is investigating Kelly Logan, a doctor at Element Wellness Spa in Brookside, after a Johnson County man fell ill during an IV treatment there and died three days later. His autopsy pinned his death on underlying medical issues, but the pathologists questioned whether a client with those issues should have been given elective vitamin IVs.

The Kansas board granted Meredith Leach Snyder a physician license last year that allowed her to expand her Kansas City business, Recovery Hydration Therapy, across the state line, but only after she agreed to take a medical record-keeping seminar and have her charts monitored for six months.

When the Kansas board issued its emergency order pertaining to Zeller, it also issued a similar one for Angela Garner, a physician who also had an ownership stake in IV Nutrition and was supposed to be overseeing the operation as medical director.

The consent agreement Zeller signed this month dropped some of the board’s earlier concerns about the clinic’s advertising and patient care. But it retained allegations that Zeller mixed IV bags and “on rare occasion” started IVs herself — things chiropractors aren’t allowed to do under Kansas regulations.

“Dr. Garner denied any knowledge of Licensee mixing IV solutions or injectable solutions,” the order states. “Dr. Garner also denied any knowledge of Licensee starting IVs or performing intramuscular injections.”

According to the order, some of the IVs given at the clinic contained potentially dangerous products like magnesium, the IV bags were sometimes infused at potentially dangerous speeds and one was given to a woman who had many underlying medical conditions, including heart disease, that increased her risk for complications.

“Excessive IV fluids can cause fluid overload and heart failure,” the order states. “The clinic’s own consent form lists heart disease as a contraindication to IV therapy. Despite her history of heart disease and stent placement, Patient 1 was given IV infusions without prior in-person consultation with Dr. Garner, the medical director and supervising physician.”

The board’s order publicly censures Zeller, requires her to take an ethics course and requires her to not mix IV bags or administer IVs, even under the supervision of a physician.

Zeller said going forward only paramedics and nurses will be doing the IVs. But she said she was always handling them safely before, following strict policies and under the supervision of a doctor.

“All our formulas were approved by a PharmD (doctor of pharmacy) as well as signed off on by our medical director,” Zeller said. “They talk as if I was just in there mixing bags or doing whatever, and that’s just not the case at all.”

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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.