- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A state board has suspended the medical license of a doctor who heads several clinics in northern and eastern Indiana and faces allegations of over-prescribing pain medications.

The Indiana Medical Licensing Board on Thursday ordered the 90-day license suspension for Dr. William Hedrick of Fort Wayne. The vote came after the state attorney general’s office presented evidence of Hedrick improperly prescribing painkillers and falsifying medical records.

The office sought the action against Hedrick after investigators on Monday searched the Muncie office of Hedrick’s Centers for Pain Relief, which operates about a dozen clinics.

Hedrick’s attorney, Barclay Wong, told the board that a pain management expert who has been auditing Hedrick’s files believed he was treating patients properly and said deficiencies had been corrected, The Journal Gazette reported (http://bit.ly/1wjMEk2 ).

The state medical board placed Hedrick on probation in March 2013 for a minimum of two years after finding three violations related to his pain clinic practice, but the board cleared him of more serious charges.

The new allegations include eight drug overdose deaths of patients who received prescriptions from either Hedrick or one of his nurse practitioners from January 2013 through July 2014 at the Muncie office.

Deputy Attorney General Jessica Krug on Thursday accused Hedrick of engaging “in a series of acts designed to mislead, misdirect and misinform,” including using employees to play a shell game to keep over-prescribing dangerous pain medications to high-risk patients.

Hedrick testified that if he was suspended, he would lose his ability to bill Medicare for a year, which would probably force his business into bankruptcy.

Several board members said they didn’t believe Hedrick’s accountability for his practice had improved since his license was put on probation last year.

“Is this an assembly line running patients in and out for prescriptions, or a good quality clinic?” board member Dr. Bharat Barai said. “My feeling is this is not a good quality clinic. Certainly the citizens of Indiana are not getting good quality care.”

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Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net

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