Sunday, April 23, 2017

Southern Ky. doctor charged with illegal prescriptions that feds say caused 3 deaths; another will serve a year on similar charges

One Southern Kentucky physician was sentenced this month to a year and a day in prison for illegally prescribing painkillers to five people, three of whom died; and another was indicted on charges of doing likewise to six people, three of whom died.

Clella Louise Hayes of Glasgow, who practiced medicine in Tompkinsville, pleaded guilty in September and was sentenced April 20. Dr. Michael Cummings of Albany was indicted April 13 and faces penalties of up to life in prison and fines of up to $3.25 million.

Hayes, 41, wrote prescriptions for six painkillers "outside the course of professional medical practice" from 2008 to 2014, the U.S. attorney's office for the Western District of Kentucky said in a press release.

In the three fatal cases, she did so without a legitimate diagnosis of the patient's pain complaints, "failed to establish an individualized treatment plan, failed to take into account significant risk factors for abuse, and failed to take into account multiple inconsistent urine drug screens which reflected drug abuse and diversion."

The release identified the three patients only by their initials. "On September 19, 2011, Dr. Hayes prescribed fentanyl to A.R.," it said. "On September 23, 2011, at age 55, A.R. died as a result of a fentanyl overdose, with post-mortem toxicology reports reflecting fentanyl at five times the therapeutic range in A.R.’s blood."

Another patient, A.H., received prescriptions from Hayes over a year then "died at age 48 as a result of a poly-pharmacy overdose, with post-mortem toxicology reports reflecting high blood concentrations of medications Dr. Hayes prescribed to A.H."

In the third case connected with a death, "On January 1, 2014, K.S. died at age 53 as a result of a poly-pharmacy overdose, with post-mortem toxicology results reflecting oxycodone, and hydrocodone at 10 times the therapeutic dose, both of which Dr. Hayes prescribed to K.S. in December 2013."

The other doctor, Cummings, was charged with 18 counts of dispensing pain killers "without a medical purpose and outside the course of professional medical practice, and resulting in the deaths of three patients" in 2014, said a release from U.S. Attorney John Kuhn, which also used initials to identify the decedents.

The indictment says Cummings, 61, dispensed 120 Oxycodone pills and 60 Oxycontin pills that caused the death of a patient identified as S.F. on April 7, 2014; and combined hydrocodone-acetaminophen pills that caused the deaths of patients identified as S.C. and P.G. on April 2 and June 3, 2014.

"The investigation has been ongoing for at least two years," reports the Clinton County News of Albany. "In May 2015, authorities executed a search warrant at the location of Cummings’ practice located in the Twin Lakes Medical Arts facility."

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