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MN physician disciplined for handling of deceased patient, P.1

We have previously looked at the issue of opioid over-prescription on this blog. As we’ve noted, it is a growing area of concern, and one which state professional boards are increasingly addressing.

For example, at the end of July, a Minnesota doctor was disciplined in a case involving a patient who overdosed on medication. The doctor, who was a retired infectious disease specialist in Duluth who practiced only occasionally at the time of the incident, ended up being fined and reprimanded for “unethical and unprofessional conduct.”

According to a stipulation reached by the physician and the board, the physician had been treating the patient since 2006 and had prescribed various medications for pain and other symptoms. The patient had been struggling with mental health issues and chemical dependency, and had been living in a group home. The physician ended up allowing the patient to leave the group home, despite expressing reservations about the move, due to alcohol misuse and medication noncompliance. The patient was later found dead as a result of an overdose on methadone and alcohol. This occurred in 2014.

The stipulation asserts that he physician failed in a number of aspects of the patient’s care, including failing to keep clinical records supporting renewal or initiating of medications, failure to consider treatment options that didn’t involve narcotics, and failure to monitor the efficacy of medications.

A reprimand remains permanently on a physician’s record. In this case, the physician’s medical license was reportedly placed on conditional status, and the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice imposed various requirements for him to restore his license to normal status.

In our next post, we’ll look at some of these requirements and why it is important for physicians to work with an experienced attorney when going through the disciplinary process in cases where they are dealing with stipulations.