A St. Charles County doctor who treated adults and children with protein shakes and chicken bouillon for conditions ranging from irregular heartbeat to muscular dystrophy must be supervised and can no longer provide alternative therapies, the state medical board has ruled.
The Missouri Board of Registration for the Healing Arts placed Dr. Russell Imboden's license on probation last month for three years, plus indefinite restrictions, after state investigators found the doctor prescribed drugs to himself and a coworker he had not examined, diagnosed and treated bogus illnesses and repeatedly ordered unnecessary and excessive lab tests.
Imboden runs a "cell based regenerative medicine" clinic in Weldon Spring. The clinic offers "metabolic medicine" and stem cell therapies including plasma injections into patients' faces and genitals to restore youth and vitality, according to its website. Imboden could not be reached for comment Monday.
Under the disciplinary conditions, Imboden cannot prescribe controlled substances nor treat patients without supervision. He must not practice hormone therapy, weight loss treatment or alternative medicine therapies "that are without scientific evidence of safety, effectiveness, or evidence-based data" indefinitely, the board ruled. The board previously reprimanded Imboden in 1998 for inappropriately prescribing painkillers to a nurse at a Wentzville hospital where they both worked.
In its July 2 decision, the board cited Imboden's improper care of nine patients, including two children, while working at Body Solution Systems in Chesterfield from 2011 to 2014. Imboden was fired from the clinic in 2014 and reported to the medical board, according to a clinic spokeswoman.
In one case outlined by the board, Imboden diagnosed a patient with subclinical thyroid disease, renal tubular acidosis, chronic yeast infection, leaky gut, colitis, myxedema, kidney stones, hypothyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome and progesterone deficiency and iodine deficiency among other conditions between January and December 2013. Over the course of the year, Imboden "repeatedly prescribed controlled substances to (the patient) without any medical purpose or any reason denoted in (the patient's) chart," according to the board.
His treatment of the patient with protein shakes and bouillon along with frequent and large batteries of lab tests marked a failure of skill and knowledge, the board concluded.
The board also cites Imboden's improper care in eight other cases:
- A 12-year-old girl with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was prescribed Vyvanse, a controlled substance indicated for the disorder, from 2012 to 2014, after one office visit with Imboden in 2012.
- A 50-year-old man was admitted to the hospital with an irregular heartbeat. Imboden advised the man to drink protein shakes and chicken broth that totaled 5,300 milligrams of sodium daily, more than double the recommended amount. Imboden told the patient that the drinks "contained healthy sodium that take fluid off the body."
- A 13-year-old boy with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a progressive muscle wasting disorder, was prescribed bouillon and protein shakes as well as unnecessary hormonal therapies that led to side effects including testicular swelling and pain.
- A 43-year-old woman was treated with various hormones including topical testosterone and an antibiotic for no legitimate reason, along with painkillers without office visits for as long as 16 months after excessive, inappropriate and unnecessary lab testing.
- A 24-year-old woman was incorrectly diagnosed with various ailments and inappropriately prescribed hormone replacement therapy, blood pressure medication, Xanax and Adderall. The woman went from 110 pounds to 91 pounds and developed acne, hair loss and emotional distress under Imboden's care.
- A 48-year-old woman was treated with hormone replacement therapy for weight loss despite insufficient lab results indicating a need for the treatment. Imboden also diagnosed the woman with hypothyroidism although she had normal thyroid levels.
- A 50-year-old woman with chronic diarrhea was placed on hormone replacement therapy without any indication of need. Imboden also prescribed four protein shakes a day plus chicken bouillon. The woman developed bloating, diarrhea, cramping, dizziness and weakness requiring an emergency room visit. Imboden told her to increase the shakes and bouillon, according to the board's disciplinary report.
The medical board said Imboden violated drug laws in several instances, including storing testosterone in an unlocked cabinet, failing to keep a drug inventory, prescribing drugs without examining patients, post-dating prescriptions and prescribing controlled substances to himself.