Texas Suspension of Doctor, Pharmacy Highlights Pain Management Prescribing Risks

Updated: January 18, 2011

Ward Pain Management Suspension

According to a January 18, 2011 TMB Press Release, TMB issued the Order of Temporary Suspension (Without Notice of Hearing) based on Dr. Ward's operation of a pain management clinic, Tejas Urgent Care Clinic, without the certification required by law; failure to practice medicine in an acceptable, professional manner; inappropriate prescribing of controlled substances; and unprofessional or dishonorable conduct. The suspension took immediate effect. Previously, the medical board denied certification of Tejas Clinic, located on West Little York Road in Houston, based on the clinic's partial ownership by a non-physician.

  1. Investigators reported the dropped-off patients would enter the clinic, exit about 20 minutes later, and then go to the pharmacy next door, H&W Pharmacy, to fill their prescriptions. Most of the prescriptions written by Dr. Ward were for hydrocodone, and a large number of prescriptions were for Xanax and Soma as well. The three drugs are a well-known combination commonly abused and diverted for sale to addicts.

According to the TMB Press Release, H&W Pharmacy's license has since been suspended by the Texas State Board of Pharmacy, as has the license of H&W pharmacist Victor Egbulefu.

The Temporary Suspension Hearing Without Notice took place under the Board's authority, granted by the Medical Practice Act, to suspend or restrict a physician's license without notice when it determines the physician's continuation in practice would constitute a continuing threat to the public welfare. Under TMB procedures, Ward has the opportunity to have a Temporary Suspension Hearing With Notice at least 10 days after notice of the suspension.

Physician Precautions Recommended For Pain Management Activities

Physicians and other health care providers should not allow the egregiousness of allegations underlying suspensions like those alleged committed by Ward to blind them to the importance of exercising special care when engaging in pain management activities. While medical practitioners, medical boards, the Drug Enforcement Agency, accreditation agencies and others increasingly recognize the appropriateness and need for legitimate pain management, physicians, pharmacies and others prescribing and delivering pain management must conduct these activities in a defensible manner. Physicians prescribing pain management remain accountable for demonstrating and documenting the therapeutic appropriateness of prescribed management including appropriate procedures to monitor and redress potential concerns about patient medication abuse or addition. See Texas Medical Board Rules §§ 170.1-170.3. As many pain management medications both are controlled substances, physicians prescribing these medications often must comply with special prescribing, documentation and other requirements under DEA, state medical board and other rules and ethical standards. See, e.g., DEA Cautions Practitioners Must Restrict Delegation of Controlled Substance Prescribing.

Missteps by providers in the prescription, documentation, or administration of pain management or other controlled substance prescriptions and treatment are frequently the basis of medical board and other disciplinary actions and civil, criminal and administrative enforcement actions by the Justice Department, DEA, Department of Health & Human Services and others. See e.g., Quality, Recordkeeping & Unprofessional Conduct Lead Reasons For Medical Board Discipline of Physicians; Texas Pain Management Physician and Psychiatrist Arrested on Federal Health Care Fraud Indictment; Pain and The Law.

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