INDIANAPOLIS — Co-workers have seen tremors in an Indiana surgeon and the smell of alcohol on his breath.

But that same surgeon has refused treatment and, at least for now, still has his medical license.

All of this has prompted the Indiana State Medical Association (ISMA) to seek a federal court order to allow it to disclose what it knows about this surgeon to state regulators.

Last week, ISMA requested a hearing after the physician-advocacy organization’s Physician Assistance Program concluded a “Dr. John Doe is not currently safe to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety”.

The federal court filing does not name the doctor or hospitals where he may have worked. The only details disclosed is that the doctor in question is a physician, and presumably male because of the repeated use of the words “he” and “his” in reference to the doctor. 

According to the court document, Dr. Doe was reported to the IMSA Physicians Assistance Program instead of the Indiana State Licensing Authority that oversees licensed professions in Indiana.

Doe was evaluated twice by outside facilities. Among the findings, “hair test results showed cocaine use, the blood test showed alcohol use over a certain period of time”.

But ISMA says Dr. Doe refused multiple times to enter a residential rehabilitation program. 

Because disclosure of someone’s substance testing or treatment is barred by federal law, IMSA has asked Judge Tanya Walton Pratt for a hearing in hopes of getting an order allowing disclosure of its investigation of Dr. Doe to the Indiana Attorney General and the Indiana State Licensing Agency.

In the meantime, it would appear Dr. Doe still has a license to practice medicine, but attorney Tina Bell, a medical malpractice specialist, says it’s very unlikely the doctor is still performing surgeries.

“He was having tremors and had the smell of alcohol on his breath. Somebody at the hospital heard about that and it’s very likely that his hospital privileges were suspended until he got treatment,” said Bell.

Bell adds refusing treatment almost certainly forced ISMA’s to go to federal court.

ISMA and the State Licensing Agency declined comment for this story. The Attorney General’s office did not respond to a request for comment.