Rolf Luneng: Medical license revoked

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Rolf Luneng was a Norwegian doctor who ran the Norsk Borreliose Senter (Norwegian Lyme Disease Center). He lost his medical license after prescribing inappropriate antibiotics to patients.

According to VG, 60 doctors expressed joy when they became aware that Rolf Luneng was going to lose his license. Luneng was influenced by so-called Lyme Literate doctors in the United States.

A Warning

In 2012, Norwegian Board of Health issued Luneng a warning because he had prescribed a large amount of antibiotics for a multiple sclerosis patient, in violation of guidelines. The Board stated:

In our opinion, you had given the patient treatment with antibiotics over 19 weeks on a failed basis. The treatment was not in line with good practice, either in terms of investigation, indication, combination of antibiotics, dosage or duration of treatment. You did not obtain information from the patient’s GP or specialist health service despite the fact that you knew that the patient had diagnosed MS. The treatment given was suitable to inflict significant strain on the patient by inflicting a primary multi-drug resistant colitis.

Revocation of license

Luneng, however, failed to change his practice. The Board cited stories of three patients, all of whom were prescribed unnecessary antimicrobials.

One of the patients developed liver damage and a urinary tract infection caused by highly resistant E.coli. It is probable that these complications were from the drug regimen prescribed by Luneng.

Thus, the Board had no choice but to revoke his license in 2013:

Your prescribing is in gross violation of current guidelines concerning the basis of the prescribing, the indication, the combination of antimicrobials and antimalarials, the dosages and the duration of treatment. In our opinion, the treatment is professionally irresponsible.

The appeal

Luneng appealed the Board’s decision to the independent Tribunal of Health Professionals. Based on three patient stories and other information, the Tribunal concluded that Luneng’s irresponsible medical practice was not limited to a few patients. The Tribunal agreed that Luneng was unfit to practice as a medical doctor and showed “gross lack of professional knowledge”. The revocation of his license was upheld.

More legal action

Luneng then sued the Government in order to get his license back. The trial before the Oslo District Court in 2016 resulted in a verdict against Luneng. The Court agreed that the Board of Health and the Tribunal had a solid basis for their decisions. The Court concluded that Luneng, given his professionally irresponsible practice, is unfit to practice safely as a medical doctor.

Lessons

Luneng tried to bring the US “chronic Lyme” movement to Norway and was the first “Lyme Literate MD” there. He claimed huge success in treating patients whom he had diagnosed to have “chronic Lyme”. His clinic was also a commercial success.

The Norwegian Health authorities, however, would have none of it. They feared that he would continue giving patients with various chronic symptoms a diagnosis of “chronic Lyme” and then treat them with long-term antimicrobials. 

Resources

European Skeptics: Rolf Luneng’s medical license still withheld

Norwegian State Health Authority: Vedtak om tilbakekall av autorisasjon som lege – tilsagn om begrenset autorisasjon (about the license revocation)

VG: Monsens flåttlege fratas autorisasjonen, 2013-09-02

VG: Flåttlege fratatt legelisens: Infeksjonslege: – Bra Luneng ble stoppet, 2013-09-03

VG: Rolf Luneng: – Jeg straffes som en «halvkriminell» lege, 2013-09-06

VG: Norsk Borreliose Senter stenger dørene, 2013-09-13

VG: Fratatt autorisasjonen i 2013: Pasienter sender sko til støttemarkering for borreliose-lege, 2016-09-04

Flåttsenteret (The Norwegian National Advisory Unit on Tick-borne diseases): Luneng tapte søksmål mot staten, 2017-06-28

NRK: Ga pasient livsfarlig tuberkulosemedisin etter flåttmistanke

Dr. Henrik Vogt: Vern barn mot politisk flått (Protect children from political fools), 2012-12-04

Professor Preben Aavitsland: Sjarlatan eller helt? (Charlatan or hero?), 2016-11-11

Professor Preben Aavitsland: Flåtten, Monsen Og Luneng (Ticks, Monsen, and Luneng), 2013-05-05