ER doctor accused of using drugs on duty loses license in both Nebraska and Iowa

The state of Iowa has suspended the license of an emergency physician who appeared to be under the influence of narcotics while treating patients at an Iowa hospital and an Omaha clinic.

The same doctor is now accused of continuing to practice medicine in Nebraska while his license there is suspended.

The Iowa Board of Medicine claims that Dr. Maman L. Ali was working in the emergency room at St. Anthony Regional Hospital in Carroll on February 12 when a housekeeper entered a room set aside for on-call doctors and noticed a vial of medicine and a needle lying on a table.

The housekeeper called an attendant who found several other medicines, a needle and a half-filled syringe. It was then determined that Ali was acting and making strange movements and that he appeared to be impaired. The supervisor contacted the hospital’s chief physician, who spoke to Ali.

According to the Board of Medicine, Ali admitted to the chief medical officer that for the past several months he had been self-administering medication by injecting it down his throat. He was then sent home. Board documents do not say whether the hospital tested Ali for drug use.

Report: Doctor had “frothing at the mouth”

Three days after this incident, police received a report of a possible drug overdose at Omaha’s Miracle Hills Golf Course. Witnesses said they saw Ali sitting in his car, shaking and foaming at the mouth, with a needle sticking out of his arm and his eyes rolling back into his head. The car’s engine revved as if Ali had put his foot on the gas pedal.

Ali was taken to a hospital where he allegedly admitted to injecting himself with two drugs. However, Ali’s doctor did not believe Ali was open about all the medications he had been taking and suspected Ali was abusing ketamine, a drug that induces a trance-like state.

Police reportedly found eight different drugs in Ali’s car, along with $4,000 and an assortment of medical supplies. He was accused of driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

Six weeks after the golf course incident, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services issued an order immediately suspending Ali’s license to practice in that state. In May, it issued a final order suspending Ali’s license for 15 months.

Nebraska state records show that last December Ali allegedly returned from lunch at the Miracle Hills Clinic in Omaha, which he owned, and was visibly impaired and acting loud, boisterous and confused. He was reported to have bumped into walls several times and after showing signs of difficulty staying at work with patients, staff had to redirect him.

The clinic later installed a CCTV camera that allegedly took multiple shots of Ali entering the clinic after hours and removing ketamine from the supply cupboard.

Nebraska state records show that clinic staff later told Federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents Ali appeared to have self-medicated during his lunch breaks for months and then returned to the clinic to treat patients. In one case, clinic staff claimed, Ali was found lying on the floor with a child who was being brought in for treatment. He also attempted to treat patients who were not there to see him and he had trouble speaking, staff claimed.

In March 2022, Ali underwent a drug test that reportedly showed “exorbitantly high” levels of alcohol in his system and the presence of ketamine. The company that evaluated Ali concluded, “Maman Ali is unsafe to practice medicine with reasonable competence and confidence,” according to Nebraska State records.

The doctor is now accused of practicing without a license

The 2022 incidents weren’t the first to involve Ali. The Iowa Board of Medicine claims Ali was found passed out in his car in April 2020, with the engine running and several bottles of alcohol in the front seat console. His blood alcohol level was measured at 0.149, well above the legal limit for driving.

In May 2022, citing actions by Nebraska regulators, the Iowa Board of Medicine charged Ali with substance abuse, practicing medicine in a manner harmful to the public, and unprofessional conduct. At that time, the board also suspended Ali’s license to practice medicine in Iowa.

Recently, the Board of Directors completed its action on the case and suspended Ali’s license indefinitely, specifying that he may not seek reinstatement until the Nebraska license suspension is lifted. He must then demonstrate that regaining his Iowa license is in the public interest.

If Ali’s Iowa license is regained, it will be subject to several conditions and a five-year probationary period.

Two weeks ago, the Nebraska Department of Health charged Ali with continuing to practice medicine during the suspension and sent him a cease and desist letter.

The department alleges Ali filled out nine new prescriptions for one patient and provided another patient with sample medication in April and May after his suspension took effect.

This article first appeared in Iowa Capital Dispatch, a sister newsroom of the Nebraska Examiner.