In researching my most recent blog on investigations and actions taken by the Virginia Department of Health Professions (VDHP), I ran across an article published in the Roanoke Times in April of this year titled, “Former Giles County doctor, stripped of license, faces criminal probe.” You can read the article here.
I will not identify the osteopathic physician who was the focus of the article other than to say he owned/ran Ace Medical in Pembroke, Virginia. The newspaper article disclosed that federal authorities were investigating the Giles County doctor following the drug overdose deaths of 20 of his patients. The patients sought treatment from the doctor for aching backs, necks, knees and hips, paid a fee of $75 to $150 and left with prescriptions for powerful drugs with addictive side effects, according to federal court records.
The most disturbing information contained in the article was that his questionable conduct started in January of 2011 and continued to late in August of 2016, a period of over 5 and 1/2 years. An affidavit filed in connection with the federal investigation alleged the 20 patients died of drug intoxication, toxicity or abuse — three each in 2011, 2012 and 2013, four in 2014, five in 2015 and two in 2016.
My Take: This is just another (atrocious) example of poor medical care in Southwest Virginia. But more disturbing, the VDHP did not suspend this doctor’s license to practice medicine until February of 2017. Read the Board’s suspension order. If those allegations are true, why did it take over 6 years for the chief medical licensing agency for the state of Virginia (whose mission is to “ensure safe and competent patient care by licensing health professionals”) to do its damn job?