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A.V. DOCTOR PLACED ON PROBATION EXCESSIVE PRESCRIPTIONS OF PAINKILLERS IS CITED.

Byline: Karen Maeshiro Staff Writer

QUARTZ HILL - A Quartz Hill osteopathic physician will be put on probation for five years and monitored by another doctor after a hearing on charges he prescribed excessive amounts of addictive painkillers to four patients.

The state Osteopathic Medical Board adopted the decision of an administrative law judge, who revoked Dr. Jeffrey Blodgett's license but stayed the revocation and placed him on probation for five years with certain terms and conditions.

"No offer of proof was made in an attempt to show that respondent is incorrigible or that he excessively prescribed opiates for an ignoble purpose. The evidence in this case does not support outright license revocation," wrote Judge H. Stuart Waxman. "A probationary period, during which respondent receives appropriate training and supervision, should adequately protect the public health, welfare, safety and interest."

The attorney for Blodgett, who owns the Quartz Hill Walk-in Medical Group, a clinic on 50th Street West, said he plans to file an appeal of the board's decision.

"I think the ruling is erroneous. There is an act known as the Intractable Pain state law that allows doctors to treat patients with intractable pain without fear of prosecution," attorney David O'Keefe said. "It was passed so doctors would not undertreat patients who have severe pain. This decision by the medical board flies in the face of that act and is contrary to its tenets."

Waxman issued his ruling March 20 following a five-day hearing in January.

The decision takes effect April 19.

"There was a final decision finding violations and putting him on probation for five years. They are also requiring him to have a practice monitor, someone who will come to the office and review records regarding patients," state Deputy Attorney General E.A. Jones said.

"I'm thankful that the board decision placed the doctor on probation. It will provide protection to the public by requiring him to undergo additional training and to put into place a practice monitor to ensure that in the future when Dr. Blodgett deals with patients with intractable pain he will be complying with the standard of care," Jones said.

The state also sought to suspend or revoke the medical license of Blodgett's father, Dr. John Blodgett, who was accused of negligently prescribing pain medication. The elder Blodgett surrendered his medical license last August rather than face an administrative hearing and is retired.

Jeffrey Blodgett argued the prescriptions were justified and that his actions with respect to the four patients are protected from disciplinary action by provisions of the Intractable Pain Treatment Act.

But Waxman said Blodgett did not comply with certain sections of the law. He said the physician failed to establish that each patient suffered from intractable pain as defined by the statute by failing to, among other things, establish that the cause of the patient's pain could not be removed or otherwise treated.

"Further, the facts in this case do not support respondent's testimony that he believed an upper limit for opiate prescription did not exist," Waxman wrote. "Had he actually so believed, he would have had no reason to instruct as to dosage (i.e., `one every four hours' or `not to exceed 6-8 per day'). He would only have needed to instruct the patient to take the medication `as needed for pain.' If, however, he believed the dosage instructions were important for the patient to avoid ingesting an excessive amount of opiate, the frequency with which he prescribed and permitted refills far exceeded his instructed dosage," Waxman wrote.

"Respondent is not being disciplined based solely on the number of tablets he prescribed. He is being disciplined based on his lack of justification for the presciptions he wrote, as reflected in his records, and on the frequency of the presciptions and refills, which provided patients with a quantity of opiate medication far in excess of any prescribed dose," Waxman wrote.

"That is not to say that respondent deviated from the standard of care and excessively prescribed opiates to each of his patients. The number of patients referenced in this case is limited, and respondent offered evidence, including testimony and letters from a number other patients, that he is a fine, caring and competent physician who, through his walk-in clinic, fills a large gap in medical services for the Antelope Valley," Waxman said.

karen.maeshiro(at)dailynews.com

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 31, 2006
Words:728
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