The Maryland Board of Physicians has revoked the medical license of a Baltimore anesthesiologist for allegedly assisting in the suicides of six people in the state from 2004 to 2008 despite his assertion Tuesday that he only advised them on how to take their own lives.
Dr. Lawrence Egbert, who has fought legal battles over the issue in Minnesota, Georgia and Arizona, said he will appeal the board's decision.
"I did not help do anything physical," Egbert said in a telephone interview from his office. "I talked only. And I would say, 'Well, if you want to do it, these are the ways it's possible to do that.'"
All the Maryland patients died from inhaling helium, according to the medical board's Dec. 12 order, first reported Tuesday by Washington, D.C., television station WJLA.
The board didn't identify the patients. They ranged in age from 68 to 87 and suffered from ailments including Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, vascular disease, depression and chronic pulmonary disease, according to the order.
The board revoked Egbert's license for "unprofessional conduct in the practice of medicine," saying he acted as an "exit guide" for the patients as medical director for the Final Exit Network. The board rejected Egbert's assertion that his actions did not constitute the practice of medicine.
Egbert, 87, said he no longer works with Final Exit, an organization based in Tallahassee, Florida, that he said he co-founded in 2006. Egbert also said he no longer practices medicine but that his medical license qualified him to testify as an expert witness on behalf of people who claim to have been tortured and are seeking asylum in the United States.
Egbert said he has been present at the suicides of more than 100 people across the country, and that he processed paperwork for hundreds more.
He was acquitted of a manslaughter charge in Arizona in 2011 and avoided prosecution for allegedly violating a Georgia assisted-suicide law when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional in 2012. Egbert and the Final Exit Network still face charges of assisting a suicide in Minnesota.
Five states allow patients to seek aid in dying: Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico.