FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - The Indiana Attorney General's office filed a petition Monday to have the license of a Fort Wayne physician suspended. The action was taken after concerns arose over what the Attorney General's Office considers to be an unusually high use of pain killer prescriptions and unsafe drug mixing practices by Dr. William Hedrick of the Centers for Pain Relief (also called Inquest Health Systems).
The Attorney General's filing for the emergency suspension was presented before the Medical Licensing Board and claims 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 Attorney General's Office has taken swift action and is confident the Medical Licensing Board will take the appropriate steps to protect patients. "
The Medical Licensing Board will consider the suspension request at its next meeting on Thursday, December 6, 2012. According to Owens, if the suspension is granted, Hedrick could not practice medicine for 90 days. During that time the Attorney General's Office would draft a formal complaint to submit to the board. The board would then determine what, if any disciplinary action would be taken.
Lawsuits filed by former CEO, doctors
The former CEO of Centers for Pain Relief Matthew Cavacini filed a lawsuit against Dr. Hedrick in November. A group three doctors, Dr. Daniel Roth, Dr. Michael Cozzi, and Dr. Hary Ailiani who used to work at Centers for Pain Relief, also filed a lawsuit against Hedrick with many of same allegations against Hedrick.
According to court documents , Cavacini, and the three doctors claim Hedrick engaged in illegal and/or unethical behavior including the following:
- Signing blank prescriptions for non-physicians to fill out when Dr. Hedrick was not in the office.
- Allowing nurse practitioners to supervise and sign prescriptions without exams or required physician supervision.
- Prescribing narcotics to patients who failed drug/urine screens, patients who had been confirmed to be "doctor shopping," and patients who claimed they had lost medication.
- Attempting to influence coroner records to hide medical management issues of deceased patients.
Cavacini claims he warned Dr. Hedrick about these practices and that Dr. Hedrick did not intend to stop any of the illegal or unethical behavior.
The suit claims that as a result of these behaviors, Cavacini was prevented from leading the professional staff as CEO at the Centers for Pain Relief and was exposed to criminal prosecution.
Cavacini claims his standing and relationships in the medical and governmental community have been damaged as a result of the actions of Dr. Hedrick.
Cavacini resigned as CEO on Oct. 11, 2012.
Doctors Roth, Cozzi and Ailinani said they also warned Hedrick of practices they believed to be illegal or unethical but Hedrick refused to change those practives.
The doctors claim the failure of Dr. Hedrick to take action has put the three of them at personal risk, criminally and with regard to their medical licenses.
According to court documents, the three doctors all resigned less than a week after Cavacini tendered his resignation.
Dr. Hedrick's Counter Claim
According to a counter claim filed by Dr. Hedrick in response to Cavacini's allegations, Hedrick claims Cavacini along with three other doctors "engaged in a conspiracy... to defame Dr Hedrick and Inquest, destroy the practice of Dr. Hedrick and Inquest, and to open a competing practice in violation of the terms of their agreements with Inquest."
Dr. Hedrick claims the allegations of illegal and unethical practices against him are false.
According to its web site, the Centers for Pain Relief operates out of 14 locations in northeast Indiana and was founded by Dr. Hedrick in 2002. The bio of Dr. Hedrick on the web site indicates he served as Medical Director in the Lutheran Health Network from 2000-2009 and he currently serves as Medical Director for InQuest Health.
NewsChannel 15 has contacted the offices of Dr. Hedrick and has not yet received a call back.
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