A 75-year-old Florida pain management doctor has been reportedly tied to the deaths of at least 17 of his patients who were prescribed controlled substances and whose deaths have been attributed to drug toxicity (15 deaths in the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s database where prescriptions written by the pain management doctor were found at the investigative scene were attributed to toxic levels of oxycodone, methadone, or a combination of drugs, and prescriptions written by the pain management doctor were also found at six overdose scenes from 2012 through 2014).
A federal indictment unsealed last week alleges the pain management physician’s connection to deaths related to prescription drugs and alleges that the physician and his 65-year-old wife hid the proceeds of a $6 million drug conspiracy. If it is proven at trial that the pain management physician’s prescriptions resulted in death and were not for legitimate medical purpose and not in the usual course of professional practice, then the doctor faces imprisonment for a minimum of twenty years to a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The Florida Board of Medicine reportedly has three pending administrative complaints involving the pain management doctor, alleging medical malpractice: one accuses the pain management doctor of dispensing oxycodone, Valium, and Soma to a 57-year-old patient in strengths and quantities which were potentially lethal, and another alleges that a 26-year-old man who died from an overdose had been prescribed 680 oxycodone pills within a 38-day period.
The pain management physician’s attorney has stated in response to the allegations against his client, “Generally, patients who have chronic pain and who are treated with opiates like oxycodone, they develop a dependence upon those drugs. Unfortunately, the patients don’t always take medication as it’s been prescribed.”
The physician’s attorney further noted that several of the patients who died from drug overdoses had lengthy histories of drug abuse and were found with drugs, straws, and/or syringes with their bodies, leading the attorney to state, “I can’t imagine there’s a prescription from [his client, the pain management physician] where he’s instructed a patient to crush oxycodone and snort it or inject it. I can’t imagine that there would ever be such a prescription.”
There is often a fine line between the therapeutic and legitimate use of powerful and potentially lethal pain medications and the deadly misuse or abuse of those same medications. It is not uncommon for patients who are prescribed and use powerful pain medications to become addicted to those medications, requiring that they be closely monitored and followed to reduce such unintended consequences of the prescribed use of narcotic and other potent pain medications.
If you or a family member were prescribed narcotics or other pain medication that caused injury or death, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your pain management claim for you and represent you in a case involving negligent pain management, if appropriate.
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