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Posted on Thu. Jan. 31, 2013 - 12:09 am EDT

Pain doctor’s offices raided; probe involves more agencies

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FORT WAYNE — Several offices of a local doctor accused of recklessly prescribing pain medication were raided Wednesday.

Search warrants from Allen Superior Court were served at four locations of Dr. William Hedrick, founder and president of Centers for Pain Relief.

Hedrick is currently facing discipline from the state’s medical licensing board, stemming from a complaint filed against him last month by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, which alleges some of his patients have died from multiple drug toxicities.

And while no criminal charges have been filed, the raids show the investigation into Hedrick and his medical practice now includes a plethora of state and federal law enforcement agencies.

The Allen County Prosecutor’s Office, Fort Wayne Police Department, federal Drug Enforcement Agency and the Indiana Attorney General Office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit are all involved, according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office.

So too is the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources, which had agents help serve the warrants Wednesday.

The Office of Inspector General typically looks into fraud, waste and abuse of programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, according to a spokesman.

Officials would not comment on what, if anything, was taken from the offices.

Hedrick’s practice has more than a dozen locations all over northeast Indiana, according to his website, but several in Fort Wayne were closed Wednesday in lieu of the raids.

One, Health Now Urgent Care, had a sign posted in its door apologizing to patients for the inconvenience and noted that it should be open today.

A spokeswoman for Hedrick said the doctor is cooperating with law enforcement officials.

Hedrick came under fire early last month when the state Attorney General’s Office sought an emergency suspension of his license before the medical licensing board.

An official with the Attorney General’s Office said at the time that Hedrick “poses a clear danger to his patients and the public,” noting that he aggressively prescribed pain medications.

Later that month, the Attorney General’s Office filed a formal complaint with the licensing board against Hedrick alleging that he:

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

•Recklessly prescribed highly addictive pain medications for non-medical purposes.

•Overused steroid injections beyond what is medically acceptable.

•Operated a pain clinic outside the bounds of legitimate medicine.

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

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

The complaint also alleges that Hedrick’s procedures are more consistent with “financial gain” than with medicine.

Initially, Hedrick had reached a proposed settlement with the Attorney General’s Office that would have seen his license suspended for two years, after which he would have needed to show that he was fit to practice.

That would have led to him being placed on probation for four years.

But last week, the licensing board rejected that proposal. Instead, board members wanted to hear specific information surrounding the allegations.

Hedrick now must go before the board for a full disciplinary hearing next month to defend his practice.

jeffwiehe@jg.net


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