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Patient deaths peril doc’s license

State alleges ‘dangerous prescribing’

– The state attorney general is seeking to suspend the license of a Fort Wayne pain medication specialist for “inappropriate and dangerous prescribing practices.”

Greg Zoeller’s office filed the emergency suspension before the Medical Licensing Board Monday against Dr. William Hedrick of the Centers for Pain Relief in Northern Indiana – alleging several patients have died from multiple drug toxicity.

Hedrick is the founder and president of the center, which has more than a dozen area locations.

Hedrick was treating patients Monday and did not return a call seeking comment. He was unaware of the investigation.

The action was taken after concerns arose over the doctor’s unusually high use of pain killer prescriptions and unsafe drug mixing practices, according to the attorney general’s office.

According to the suspension petition, Hedrick’s prescribing habits, “are not medically sound and pose substantial risk to the safety of his patients.”

“Evidence reveals that Dr. Hedrick poses a clear danger to his patients and the public,” said Gabrielle Owens, Deputy Director of the Attorney General’s Licensing Enforcement and Homeowner Protection Unit. “Numerous patients have died from multiple drug toxicity while in his care and these types of aggressive prescription practices are dangerous.”

The filing also said some of the specific concerns include the use of unsafe pharmacological mixes and unusually high pill counts frequently associated with diversion, or the illegal reselling of medication.

The board will consider the petition for summary suspension Dec. 6.

If the suspension is granted, Owens said Hedrick could not practice medicine for 90 days while the Attorney General’s Office drafts a formal complaint to submit to the board.

In licensing cases, the board has the authority to determine what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken.

Hedrick was quoted in a 2008 Journal Gazette special report on the growing use of prescription medications and some of the deadly consequences.

In it, he said 95 percent of patients are responsible with their pain medications while a small number aren’t.

In the same article, Hedrick also said he uses “co-analgesics,” a wide range of medications including sleep sedatives and muscle relaxers that treat conditions amplifying pain and reduce the need for opiates.

nkelly@jg.net

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