By its order dated August 27, 2014, a Maryland psychiatrist’s medical license was summarily suspended by the Maryland State Board of Physicians (“Board”) after the Board concluded that the public health, safety, or welfare “imperatively requires emergency action.” The Board-certified psychiatrist had a solo practice in Baltimore City and had been licensed in Maryland since 1979. She did not have hospital admitting privileges and she was not Board-certified in the sub-specialty of pain medicine.
It appears that the Maryland psychiatrist got herself in trouble when she began getting involved in pain management medicine. Her training in pain medicine involved taking a pain management course at an American Psychiatric Association meeting in mid-2013 and sixteen hours of pain management training with the American Academy of Pain Medicine in March 2014.
The Board focused its attention on the Maryland psychiatrist’s Baltimore City pain management practice after one of her patients was found unconscious in a hospital emergency room bathroom with a syringe in her arm (the syringe was suspected to contain heroin), along with over 350 medication tablets in 21 bottles (many of which contained multiple types of medications), 40 syringes, a rubber strap, suspected marijuana, and a large amount of cash. All of the medication bottles had labels indicating that the psychiatrist had prescribed the drugs, all of which were controlled dangerous substances (CDS), including alprazolam, dextroaphetamine, OxyContin, hydromorphone, and methadone.
The Board conducted an investigation, which included an unannounced office visit to the psychiatrist’s Baltimore office and review of the medical records of ten of her patients, pursuant to subpoena. Among other observations during the unannounced office visit, the investigators found medications in an unlocked cabinet, which included CDS and expired medications.
An expert retained by the Board determined that the Maryland psychiatrist failed to document adequate patient assessments, failed to conduct an adequate physical examination of patients in many instances, failed to use risk assessment tools, continued to prescribe opioids to her patients despite evidence of abuse, addiction, and/or diversion, and was otherwise deficient in her treatment of pain management patients, which led the expert to conclude that the psychiatrist was “not professionally competent to practice pain medicine as a result of a clear and consistent deficit of skill, knowledge and judgment with regard to management of patients for whom she is prescribing opioid medications,” raising “a substantial likelihood of serious risk to the public health, safety or welfare of patients due to her lack of training and clinical judgment to treat complex patients seeking care for pain management.”
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries or complications due to pain management in Maryland or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a Maryland medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your pain management malpractice claim for you and represent you in a pain management claim and/or psychiatrist malpractice claim, if appropriate.
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