Tennessee doctor accused of using wrong COVID-19 test to clear patients

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Tennessee doctor is accused of using the wrong test to clear patients of the coronavirus, according to discipline allegations before the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners.

This is not the first time Dr. Michael LaPaglia, 49, has been brought before the board.

In 2014, he had his medical license suspended for possession of controlled substances, and in 2018, he was caught issuing prescriptions in the name of another doctor.

LaPaglia used rapid blood test kits that can detect antibodies from a previous infection but aren’t reliable in checking for a current infection, according to the allegations brought by the Department of Health. The allegation states that the improper testing occurred in November and December of 2020 as a part of his in-home COVID-19 antibody testing practice through Elite HealthCare.

During the two visits outlined in the court documents, patients said he did not wear a mask or gloves, did not take their temperatures during the visit, and did not perform necessary physical exams. The records also allege that he created false medical records for both patients by including information he did not obtain during the visit, such as pulse rates and temperature.

One of the patients also noted that LaPaglia allegedly smelled of marijuana. The documents show that in December 2020, LaPagila’s parole officer instructed him to report for a drug screen. Allegedly, he told his parole officer that he has tested positive for COVID-19, but did not provide the test results.

In January 2021, following a second request for his test result, he said that he had received a positive test from a clinic in Jacksboro, Tennessee, despite the clinic having no record of him taking a test there, according to the court documents. In February, he admitted to falsifying the test and said he never had COVID-19.

The allegations could result in LaPaglia losing his medical license, which is already on probation. He was sentenced to 18 months following pleading guilty to federal charges after he was caught issuing prescriptions in the name of another doctor.

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