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Board: Napping Rutherford Doc Fined For Falsifying Dead Patient's Records

Jaroslaw S. Pondo's Rutherford office on Union Avenue.
Jaroslaw S. Pondo's Rutherford office on Union Avenue. Photo Credit: Google Maps

RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A Rutherford doctor who falsified a patient's medical records at an area hospital after he woke up from a nap is facing fines, the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners announced.

Internist Jaroslaw S. Pondo was ordered to complete a course in medical ethics and discharged from the Hackensack University Medical Center staff after detailing that he performed a history and physical on a patient three hours after he had been declared dead, the ruling said.

Pondo had been treating the patient for five years when the patient was found unresponsive at his home in 2015, according to the ruling.

The patient was taken to the Meadowlands Hospital, but Pondo requested to have him transferred to HUMC, where the internist said he would care for him, the ruling said.

After learning that the patient had been successfully transferred to HUMC, Pondo told a state medical review panel he planned on taking a brief nap and would visit the patient within three hours, according to the ruling.

Pondo slept through his alarm, which was mistakenly on vibrate, and woke up at 5 a.m., according to the ruling.

The doctor logged onto the hospital's record system remotely at approximately 7:30 a.m., and reported "detailed findings" from an on-site examination to the patient, according to the ruling.

Pondo recorded the patient's death in the chart four hours later, the ruling said.

"While the Panel noted, in mitigation, that respondent testified in a contrite manner and conceded that his conduct was improper, the Panel nonetheless specifically found that respondent falsified a medical record," according to the board's order.

The physician had his privileges suspended at HUMC and was discharged from the medical staff just over a month later, the ruling said.

He was formally reprimanded, assessed a civil penalty of $3,500 and ordered to complete courses in medical ethics and medical record keeping within six months, according to the state's order.

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