California AG Investigating Medical Board Complaint Re: Morongo Valley’s Premier MD

Dr. Prem Salhotra, who for more than a decade has been one of the more active members of the medical community in the Morongo Basin, is facing serious scrutiny by the California Attorney General’s Office over charges that were lodged through the California Medical Board pertaining to exercising inadequate caution in prescribing painkillers to two of his patients.
According to the California Medical Board’s website, Salhotra’s primary status is that his license as a physician and surgeon is “current and renewed.” A secondary status notation indicates “accusation filed.” Clicking upon the accompanying icon opens a field which states: A formal, public charge by the board alleging a physician violated the Medical Practice Act. This is the result of a fully investigated complaint that has been referred to the Attorney General’s Office for prosecution. Practice is permitted unless otherwise specified.”
The Sentinel has learned that four allegations of repeated negligent acts, gross negligence, failure to maintain adequate and adequate medical records and unprofessional conduct pertaining to two patients have been lodged against Salhotra.
Both patients were under Salhotra’s care from 2012 to 2015.
One of the patients was experiencing extensive and chronic neck and lower back pain, hypertension, migraines and osteoarthritis of the spine. Accompanying those physical conditions was depression. According to the complaint against Salhotra, he prescribed heavy doses of morphine during much of his treatment of the patient but did not subject the patient to a urine drug screen and did not undertake to formulate a pain management regimen for the patient either. As a consequence, the patient developed a serious opioid dependence.
The second patent referenced in the complaint was being treated for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, rapid heartbeat and chronic lower back pain. Salhotra prescribed for the patient opioids, benzodiazepines and sleep medication and did not order a urine drug screen for the patient, according to the complaint. There is no record of Salhotra informing the patient of the risks attending the use of opioids. Salhotra, without consulting with or referring the patient to a psychiatrist, dispensed to the patient anti-hallucinogenic, anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety medications. Salhotra is on record as stating that his nurse practitioner specializes in psychiatry.
The accusations were filed on December 14, 2017, which came six weeks after Salhotra was feted at November 2 meeting of the Morongo Basin Healthcare District Board of Directors. At that time, the board members praised Salhotra for his concern, compassion, conscientiousness and depth of humanity. He was presented with certificates of appreciation and recognition and a proclamation of appreciation.
Significantly in the light of what occurred the following month, it was noted at that time that Salhotra was engaged in a campaign against opioid overuse. It was publicly stated that he had reduced his prescriptions of Schedule II drugs, including morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone and fentanyl by 44 percent and reduced combined schedule II, II and IV prescriptions by 48 percent. Salhotra, whose full name is Prem Parkash Salhotra, is a 1981 graduate of Guru Nanak University Amritsar, India, where he obtained his original M.D., a graduate of the University of Miami’s Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, where he obtained his U.S. M.D. He completed his residency with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He is board certified in internal medicine. He started his first medical practice in Morongo Valley in Wonder Valley.
He currently practices at Morongo Medical Group and is affiliated with Desert Regional Medical Center Palms Springs Campus, Eisenhower Medical Center, John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital and Hi-Desert Medical Center. He was instrumental in establishing or building up several public health clinics run by the Morongo Basin Healthcare District.
Of 26 reviews of Salhotra offered by those treated by him obtained by the Sentinel, 20 were positive, with several of those glowing, two were neutral, and four were negative. A common theme of the negative reviews was that Salhotra was not punctual, sometimes resulting in his patients waiting more than an hour after their scheduled appointment time to see him. Some said he spent little or no time with his patients, sometimes relying on his nurse practitioners. Reviewers both negative and positive noted that he is quite busy. It is well documented that Salhotra is one of the most sought after doctors in the Morongo Basin.
-Mark Gutglueck

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