According to the attorney for the medical board, William Trice, Kauffman's license was suspended because Kauffman did not follow procedures mandated by the board as a condition for Kauffman to remain as a practicing physician.
"He is under very strict guidelines about what he can and cannot do," Trice said. "He took an allergy medicine, Claritin D, and it showed up in his blood test. He took the medicine, then he went to a doctor, then he notified the medical board. This is a violation of his contract. He has been before the board on numerous occasions and they cannot get him to follow the rules."
A spokesman for Dr. Kauffman's office verified that he is under suspension and the violation came about because of the allergy medicine.
"It was a weekend and Dr. Kauffman was here at the clinic," the spokesman said. "His head was full of congestion and he took some sudafed -- some Claritin D with pseudoephedrine in it. A couple days later, I'm sitting here talking to the lady at the Arkansas Medical Foundation, Vicky Walters, and as he walked by my office to see a patient, he said, 'Oh, by the way, tell Vicky I took some Claritin D over the weekend.' I did, and she said, 'OK, I'll notify Dr. Dyner.' Well, it wasn't an hour later we got a phone call from Dr. Dyner asking if he (Kauffman) had a prescription for this. Dr. Kauffman said, 'Well, no, it's an over-the-counter medication.' Dr. Dyner told him his contract stated he even had to have a prescription for over-the-counter medication."
"We got the contract out and really read it over," the spokesman said. "I'm going to defend him (Kauffman) here. If anyone has ever had their professional license taken away and you have the opportunity to get it back, you're going to sign anything to get it back. That's your livelihood. You don't care what the contract says. That's exactly what he did. He was getting his medical license back and he didn't read it (the contract), he just signed it."
The contract specifically states that Dr. Kauffman cannot take any mood altering drugs, no alcohol, no over-the-counter medications without prior written consent from the Arkansas State Medical Foundation.
"It was a weekend," the spokesman said. "Two of the doctors on the medical board told Dr. Kauffman Thursday, that they understood being congested was uncomfortable, but anyone can live through a weekend from discomfort and he should have waited until Monday, called the board to tell them he needed it, then went and got a prescription."
"Joe Beck looked at David and told him he shouldn't even take a multivitamin without asking the board's permission," the spokesman said.
"The board had told him back in January when he went before the board for a routine meeting that he was on a zero tolerance policy. And by zero tolerance they meant he had to follow the contract to the explicit letter," the spokesman said. "They told him, 'You are going to follow our rules. You don't live by your rules, you live by ours.' He (Kauffman) took the Claritin D without telling them first and that violated their rules. That's it. That's what this is about."
"This is about a contractional disagreement," the spokesman said. "There was no illegal use of drugs, there was no illegal use of alcohol, there was no malpractice here. This was a disciplinary action they took on a contractional point."
According to the spokesman, an appeal of the decision is being considered but nothing has been finalized. "An appeal is a legal process and could take several months," he said.
"This is having a huge affect on this community," he said. "It's affecting Dr. Kauffman's patients and affecting the hospital because Dr. Bozeman will be out for a while and they were counting on Dr. Kauffman to be there instead."
The staff at Dr. Kauffman's office said they are telling patients to find another doctor temporarily, or if they need to, to find someone on a permanent basis. Patients can call the office to get their medical records if needed.
"We're trying to bring in another physician to continue to see Dr. Kauffman's patients," the office spokesman said. "I think we need another physician in here for the times when he is at the ER and has to split his time between the ER and his patients. So, in a sense, this has been good -- if you can see the good coming from this. I have two interviews set up with two doctors who may come into the clinic and then stay with us. I feel strongly this will benefit the clinic and the community."
Kauffman has a huge following of loyal patients who have supported him through the battles he has fought in his career.
According to a Detailed License Verification report from the Arkansas State Medical Board, complaints against Kauffman started in 1992. Many of the complaints Kauffman has had to answer to were dismissed by the board but his license was suspended in 1996, revoked in October 1997, reinstated in January of 1999, suspended in October of 2007 and suspended again this month.
Kauffman was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in 2004 and in 2005 was charged with possession of a controlled substance, careless and prohibited driving, no proof of insurance, failure to yield, failure to register and no license plate. In September of 2006 he was again convicted of driving drunk. In October of 2006 he was involved in a one-vehicle accident where investigators said Kauffman appeared to be intoxicated and that medication vials were found in his car and in the yard of his residence.
Members of the community say that Kauffman has been working hard to get his life on track and overcome the problems that have plagued him for years. "He has been going to AA and he is working to the best of his ability to work the AA program," a resident said, "We each progress at a different pace. This is a program of progress, not perfection, because there is no way we can be perfect."
"I've known Dr. Kauffman for 20 years. Fellow physicians and the medical board have said he is one of the most brilliant physicians they have ever met. He scored higher on his medical boards than anyone has ever done. But, sometimes, genius comes with a price," the spokesman said.
"His patients are extremely loyal to him," the spokesman said. "I had a patient call just a few minutes ago and she was adamant that she doesn't want to go to another doctor. She wants to come to Dr. Kauffman. Many people in Fulton County can tell you a story about how many lives he has saved. The child with the morphine overdose -- Dr. Kauffman saved that child's life, there's no doubt about that."
The office spokesman said that someone will be at Dr. Kauffman's office each day to answer calls but they are short staffed.
"This suspension means Dr. Kauffman cannot make referrals, he cannot fill a prescription, he cannot see a patient, he can't offer any advice," the spokesman said. "Legally, he is constrained to a point that his hands are tied behind his back."