Medical board suspends Pikeville pathologist's license

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comAugust 22, 2012 

A Pikeville pathologist has been suspended by the state medical board for allegedly prescribing pain pills and other medications for people he had never seen.

The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure issued an emergency suspension of Dr. James A. Dennis on Aug. 17.

Board members thought Dennis "presented an immediate danger to patients and the public," General Counsel C. Lloyd Vest II said Wednesday.

The investigation began in April after a patient's family member said they found 35 empty pill bottles in her possession with prescriptions for controlled substances written by Dennis in the names of five different people, according to the emergency order of suspension.

"It is part of the board's continuing effort to address inappropriate and illegal prescribing in Kentucky," Vest said.

Some prescriptions were for the patient; others were in the names of the patient's acquaintances, the order said. The medications included the painkiller hydrocodone, and the anti-anxiety pill Xanax.

The order says the patient told Dennis she could not afford to continue going to a pain clinic and asked if he would provide her with controlled substances. The patient, who the suspension order did not identify, said she was addicted to hydrocodone and took as many as 30 10mg pills per day, the order said. The patient said the physician never performed a physical examination of her, but wrote prescriptions in her name and the names of four of her acquaintances. Between March 2011 and April 2012, the physician provided her with 9630 dose units of hydrocodone, the order of suspension said.

The patient said she and the physician had some sexual contact, but not intercourse, the order said.

Two of the people whose names were used for prescriptions for the patient told board officials they had never sought or received treatment from the physician. The board could not locate the other two individuals, according to the order.

Dennis said in the order that he was on the staff of the Pikeville Medical Center. He could not be reached for comment.

Walter May, President and CEO of the Pikeville Medical Center, told a Herald-Leader reporter that Dennis was not employed by the hospital, but had privileges to work on the medical staff.

Those privileges ended when the board of medical licensure issued the suspension, said the hospital's attorney Pam May.

Walter May said he was aware of the suspension, but had not seen the facts of the case.

According to the order, Dennis said the patient, a hospital employee, would come by his office and complain of back and leg pain. He said he wrote prescriptions for her for six months, without giving her a physical examination. He did not have a medical record for her, the suspension order said.

The order said Dennis: "stopped writing the prescriptions for (the patient) and her friends because he became scared after completing his license renewal application. The application asked whether he had ever written more than 90 doses of controlled substances."

Dennis denied ever having a sexual relationship with her, according to the order.

A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 4, Vest said.

Reach Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409.Twitter: @vhspears.

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