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Posted on Sat. Dec. 29, 2012 - 12:15 am EDT

State slaps six-count complaint on pain doc

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FORT WAYNE — Local physician Dr. William Hedrick now faces a formal complaint before the state’s medical licensing board, accusing him of incompetence and recklessly prescribing pain medications.

The formal complaint, filed Dec. 21 by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, comes after Zoeller asked for the emergency suspension of Hedrick’s license by the medical licensing board.

That request was granted in early December.

Hedrick is founder and president of the Centers for Pain Relief, which is based in Fort Wayne but has more than a dozen other locations in northern Indiana. In the past few months, multiple lawsuits have been filed against him, and a number of patients have come forward claiming he got them addicted to controlled substances.

The attorney general’s complaint said a review of Hedrick’s prescribing practices “reveals inappropriate and dangerous prescribing habits that are not medically sound.”

The document is similar to the request Zoeller’s office filed when it asked for the emergency license suspension.

Hedrick allegedly used unsafe pharmacological mixes; unusually high pill counts that are often an indication of diversion, which is the illegal reselling of medication; as well as a preference for medical combinations highly valued for diversion, according to the documents.

Numerous patients have died from multiple drug toxicities, and Hedrick’s procedures are more consistent with “financial gain,” according to the complaint.

The six-count complaint accuses Hedrick of:

•Treating chronic, non-cancer pain with opiate drugs without sufficient education, training or experience, causing caused negative effects in his patients.

•Recklessly prescribing highly addictive pain medications for nonmedical purposes.

•Overusing steroid injections beyond what is medically acceptable.

•Operating a pain clinic that operates outside the bounds of legitimate medicine.

•Failing to apply current theories of appropriate pain management to treat his patients.

•Failing to adequately supervise advance practice nurses and physicians’ assistants for whom he was required to collaborate with and monitor for patient care and safety.

A hearing on his civil lawsuits is set for early next month.

“Red flags were raised about Dr. Hedrick’s prescribing practices after evidence revealed a preference for narcotics and unusually high pill counts often associated with diversion,” said Gabrielle Owens, deputy director of the attorney general’s Licensing Enforcement and Homeowner Protection Unit, in a written statement. “Currently, he is suspended from practicing medicine, but the Medical Licensing Board at its next hearing will determine what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken.”

A hearing on the complaint is scheduled for Jan. 24.

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