Regulatory Actions against Robban Sica, M.D.
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Robban A. Sica, M.D., who operates the Center for the Healing Arts in Orange, Connecticut, is facing charges that could result in revocation of her medical license. In 2003, she was charged with improperly using chelation therapy to treat cardiovascular disease, failing to obtain adequate consent for such treatment, and failing to properly manage many of these patients whom she said were suffering from heavy metal toxicity. Sica was charged with violating the standard of care, as follows:
STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Chelation therapy is a series of intravenous infusions containing EDTA and various other substances. It is falsely claimed to be effective against cardiovascular disease and many other diseases and conditions. Chelation has valid use in some cases of heavy metal poisoning. However, chelationists often diagnose it in patients with no history of toxic exposure and use treatment protocols that differ from standard protocols .
When Sica learned that the Connecticut Bureau of Health Care Systems was investigating her, she filed a 48,000-word lawsuit and founded the Protect Healthcare Freedom Association to appeal for financial and political help. The suit, which charged that she was being denied due process, targeted the State, the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the Commissioner of Public Health, the individual board members, and a medical consultant .
Federal courts do not intervene in ongoing state regulatory matters unless a plaintiff can demonstrate that the state's action was brought in "bad faith" or involves "extraordinary circumstances." Sica charged that she was being unfairly persecuted and that the state's system for physician regulation was severely flawed. However, in October 2004, after considering the meager evidence she presented, a federal judge ruled that the state board procedures would provide Sica with ample opportunity to defend herself and that her argument that Connecticut's regulatory framework was globally flawed was "frivolous."  It appears to me (and I suspect that it was obvious to the judge) that the lawsuit was an attempt to persuade state government officials that pursuing her will take more effort than the state can afford to spend.
In February 2005, Sica and the Connecticut licensing authorities signed a settlement under which she agreed to: (a) serve a year of probation, (b) stop using DMPS as a chelating agent, (c) stop using a provoked test to diagnose heavy metal toxicity, (d) use a patient consent form which states that chelation therapy has not been scientifically substantiated, and (e) have her practice monitored by an independent consultant. The agreement also contained stringent recordkeeping and reporting requirements and a provision that Sica could not own shares or serve as an officer of any professional corporation or other form of medical practice in which she does not render a substantial amount of patient care .
Other Dubious Practices
In addition to chelation therapy, Sica offers other questionable services, the most notable of which is "electrodermal screening" with the Listen System, which Sica says can "help identify patterns of environmental sensitivities." However, the device merely measures skin resistance to a low-level electric current. According to a proponent's patent application:
The LISTEN system is a modified computer-based system which, in addition to determining electrical resistance at specific conductance points, can be used to administer radio frequency signals corresponding to specific compounds, such as homeopathic dilutions of growth factors. These signals are generated by digital codes pre-programmed into the system by the manufacturer. The patient to be evaluated holds a source electrode, or brass bar, covered with wet gauze in one hand. The practitioner holds a second brass electrode, or probe, like a pen and touches a specific conductance point in the other hand or in a foot with the probe while firmly supporting the finger or toe .
All the device actually measures is how hard the practitioner presses the probe against the patient's skin . Sica's Web site states that she usually charges $380 for her initial "comprehensive wellness assessment," $150 to $275 for subsequent office visits, and $420 for electrodermal screening .
Sica has had other legal problems. In 1999, Allstate Insurance Company filed two suits against 258 individuals suspected of participating in staged accident rings in Camden and Perth Amboy, New Jersey. A third suit targeted chiropractors, medical doctors, and related medical and business corporations who allegedly created a dummy medical corporation to misrepresent a chiropractic facility as a physician-owned medical center. One of the suits accused a chiropractor of setting up a phony medical corporation in order to circumvent a New Jersey health-care regulation that limits chiropractors' scope of practice and regulations designed to reduce health care costs. The chiropractor entered into the alleged illegal arrangement with Sica to create the appearance that the clinic was owned by Sica. The suit alleged that Sica had suspected ownership interests in at least 14 other similar corporations in New Jersey. The chiropractor was introduced to Sica through a seminar run by a California chiropractor named Daniel Dahan, who operated a medical management consulting firm called "Practice Perfect." Dahan located the MD-for-hire and also supplied the instructions and paperwork to set up the bogus corporation. In testimony to Allstate, the chiropractor admitted that he never personally met Sica and that she had never visited the facility, invested in the corporation, or treated or supervised patients . In 2001, a judge ruled that the scheme "to be suspicious and indicative of a sham ownership."  Sica settled her part of the lawsuit in 2004 in an agreement with undisclosed terms.
In 2000, Allstate sued Sica and 108 other defendants for fraud and racketeering in New York State. According to an Insurance Times report:
Included as defendants are 47 medical professional corporations, 15 medical doctors, one former medical doctor, 26 chiropractors, five lay persons and 15 management companies. The complaint alleges claims for relief under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act, the state consumer fraud act, the state anti-self-referral statute, under theories of common law fraud and unjust enrichment. Collectively, the companies seek in excess of $60 million in damages plus undetermined additional punitive damages.
The lengthy investigation by Special Investigations Units (SIUs) from the four insurance companies revealed five medical doctors and one former medical doctor as the main perpetrators of the scam. The complaint charges that Alan Cohen, M.D., Swapnadip Lahiri, MD, Robban Sica, MD, George Battaile, Robert Mallela, MD, and John Grauerholz, MD were willing to sell their names and licenses to anyone willing to pay their fees. Cohen was identified as the principal perpetrator with 29 of the named phony PCs linked to his name. . . .
A doctor such as Cohen agreed to sell the use of his name and license for a yearly fee of approximately $4,000 to any lay person or non-physician interested in establishing one or more phony medical PCs. The transaction was completed through a complex series of contracts and agreements that purported to absolve Cohen from responsibility for anything associated with the phony PC, including providing any genuine medical services.
By requiring them to sign over their stock certificates in blank at the time the phony PC was formed, the real owners of each PC made sure that Cohen and the other nominal owners could never seek to take control of the PC. The real PC owners could then assume ownership by filling in the blank stock certificates with the dates and the names of any individuals they chose. The real PC owners could then continue to control and operate the phony PCs .
Sica's part in this lawsuit was also settled with a confidential agreement .
The third lawsuit involved sham ownership by Sica in five New Jersey corporations .
In 2001, New York State licensing authorities charged Sica with "professional misconduct by reason of directly or indirectly receiving or agreeing to receive a fee or other consideration from third party in connection with the performance of professional services." . The State alleged that between 1995 and 1999:
- Sica's New York State medical license, which she had acquired in 1995, expired in March 2001.
- Between 1995 and 1999, she had become the sole shareholder, director, and officer of 32 corporations that had been organized to practice medicine.
- She had hired a management company to oversee operation of the companies.
- In many instances, she entered an agreement with the management company to be paid an annual fee for professional consultations.
It is against New York state law for anyone other than a licensed practitioner to own a medical professional corporation that delivers services covered under the practitioner's license. Sica settled the charges with a consent agreement under which she promised to dissolve the corporations and to permanently give up her right to renew her license . In 2002, in a separate consent agreement, Sica agreed to dissolve one of the clinics, Bellmore Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, P.C. (formerly known as Bellmore Medical Services). 
New Charges (2010)
DMPS is not a legal drug . In 2010, Sica was charged with violating the 2005 order by prescribing it for 11 patients . In 2012, the board fined her $700 per patient, suspended her license for 30 days, and ordered close monitoring of her practice for two years .
- Barrett S. Chelation therapy and insurance fraud. Quackwatch, May 11, 2000.
- Sica v. State of Connecticut et. al., Civil Action 3-04CV0023.
- Garfinkle WI. Findings of fact re: alleged exceptions to Younger abstention. In Sica v. State of Connecticut et al. U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut, Civil Action No. 3:04-CV-23(MRK), Oct 8, 2004.
- Consent order. In re: Robban Sica, M.D. Petition No. 2002-0306-001-043, Feb 15, 2005.
- Brewitt B. Homeopathic dilutions of growth factors. U.S. Patent Number 5,629,286, May 13,1997.
- Barrett S. Quack "electrodiagnostic" devices. Quackwatch, revised April 26, 2004.
- Welcome package. Center for the Healing Arts Web site, accessed, May 4, 2004.
- Barrett S. Allstate sues to recover many more millions. Chirobase, Dec 30, 1999.
- Allstate Insurance Company v. Northfield Medical Center, Practice Perfect, Daniel H. Dahan, Robert Borsody, et al., Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Morris County, Docket No. MRS-L-3228-99, decided April 27, 2001.
- Insurers allege fraud In $60 million lawsuit against NY doctors. Insurance Times, March 28, 2000.
- Denial of summary motion to dismiss. Allstate Insurance Company et al. v. Harry Schick, D.C., 328 N.J.Super. 611, 746 A.2d 546, Nov. 23, 1999.
- Consent agreement and order. In the matter of Robann A. Sica, M.D. New York State Board for Professional Medical Conduct, BPMC No. 02-10.
- Consent agreement and order. In the matter of Bellmore Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, P.C., f/k/a/ Bellmore Medical Services, P.C. New York State Board for Professional Medical Conduct, Oct 28, 2002.
- Barrett S. DMPS is not a legal drug. Chelation Watch, Jan 25, 2010.
- Statement of charges. In re: Robban Sica, M.D. Petition No. 2007-0227-001-030, March 19, 2010.
- Memorandum of decision. Robban Sica, M.D. Petition No. 2007-0227-001-030, June 19, 2012.
This page was revised on July 30, 2012.