Kauffman, who had faced penalties before for drug and alcohol problems, was suspended from practicing when he revealed he had taken an over the counter allergy medication without first getting approval of the medical board which was closely monitoring his actions.
Kauffman had a record of admitting more patients to the hospital than any physician on staff, and admissions have dropped by at least 30 percent in his absence.
This fall, the FCH Board of Governors has followed developments that appeared to put Kauffman back to track to regain his license. Members heard how the state medical board had granted Dr. Kauffman a temporary license, and he was getting back into the routine of seeing patients by shadowing Dr. Jim Bozeman and Dr. Michael Moody. Kauffman was also going through the process of obtaining new Medicaid and Medicare "numbers," that would allow him to bill for his services once his full license was restored.
It was a shock, then, for the hospital board to hear that the Arkansas Medical Board had pulled Kauffman's temporary license when he appeared before it in early December. Kauffman was told he would have to return before the board in February, at the earliest.
Kauffman had signed an agreement with the board outlining strict requirements he had to meet to get his license reinstated. According to Dr. Bozeman, one of the requirements was that Kauffman report in by telephone every morning, and his temporary license was pulled when he missed one phone call, after oversleeping on Wednesday, Nov. 7, after staying up late watching election returns.
"My opinion is, Dr. Kauffman is being unfairly treated, by the medical board," said Brother John Hodges, of the First Baptist Church of Salem, where Kauffman has become an active member, determined to avoid drug and alcohol issues that got him in trouble in the first place.
"Dr. Kauffman is a much better person today -- spiritually, personally and in relationships -- than he was three years ago," Hodges said. "He is doing his best to meet the standards the medical board has set, and missing a phone call (to the board) was an unintentional error."
Hodges, who has driven Kauffman to medical board appearances, said he felt very sorry for him when the board unexpectedly took his temporary license. Hodges was heartened though that Kauffman insisted he would not use the setback as an excuse to break years of sobriety.
Bozeman told the hospital board that he believed Kaufffman was ready to resume practice, and Kaufman had planned to join him as a "hospitalist," specializing in ER care, taking some of the pressure off of Bozeman.
"They (the medical board) just kind of slammed me in the face and we have no other option," Bozeman told the board in proposing the hospital seek a private company to run the ER because of a lack of local physicians.
Hodges said he hopes the medical board will give Kauffman another chance because its mission is to protect patients in Arkansas, and refusing to allow Kauffman to practice will hurt patients by threatening the hospital's future.
"In my opinion, I think, by far, Dr. Kauffman is the best physician we could get in the community. His desire is to continue to live here and to help the hospital," Hodges said.