Fayette County

Pain-pill cases end for doctors

Two Lexington doctors censured by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure last year for overprescribing pain medication have had their cases resolved.

Dr. Charles G. Grigsby, who had been prohibited from prescribing controlled drugs since last summer, has entered into an agreed order with the board that allows him to prescribe the medications again. However, the order requires him to take steps to more carefully track his prescriptions and how patients use them.

Dr. James Heaphy, who has not practiced medicine since his license was suspended in June, has agreed to surrender his license.

Both men specialize in internal medicine. They signed agreements with the Board of Medical Licensure in February, but the documents were not made public until Thursday.

Board documents indicate that Heaphy admitted he falsified certificates he gave the board, claiming to have attended continuing medical education classes that he did not attend.

There also were a number of other allegations contained in the board documents, including claims that he falsified patient records, did not keep accurate records, provided early refills on painkillers, refilled prescriptions without office visits, did not adequately screen patients, allowed patients long-term use of drugs normally prescribed for short times, and provided patients with "highly dangerous" combinations of drugs.

According to the board documents, Heaphy denied engaging in "any unprofessional or illegal conduct." Attempts to reach Heaphy were unsuccessful Saturday night.

Last June, the board issued an order restricting Grigsby's license after a consultant hired by the state to review his practice gave the opinion that Grigsby started patients on narcotics without clear indications, prescribed narcotics for long-term use without clear justification and refilled prescriptions early.

In July, Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn notified the board that his office had investigated the deaths of several of Grigsby's patients in which prescription drugs were a factor.

The board consultant issued a follow-up report in January, saying he could "find no evidence that Dr. Grigsby's deviation from the Commonwealth of Kentucky's standard of medical care lead (sic) directly to the deaths of any of these patients." But the consultant did say that "a reasonable physician caring for similar patients in similar situations would undoubtedly question the treatment regimens and judgment of Dr. Grigsby."

Since then, Grigsby has completed a number of continuing education courses.

As part of his agreement resolving the case with the board, Grigsby will keep a "controlled substances log" with dates, patient names, medication prescribed and other pertinent information for five years. The log must be made available to the board's consultants or agents upon request.

Grigsby also agreed not to provide early refills, to maintain "drug contracts" with each patient and to review patient reports from the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting system, or KASPER, at least yearly, to help ensure that his patients are using their prescriptions properly.

Grigsby, who denies engaging in any improper conduct, maintains that the board is "overzealous" in disciplining doctors who prescribe pain medication.

"There's a lot of non-cancer patients who have pain, and nobody will prescribe to them," he said Saturday. "How can you do that? If they've got legitimate pain, that's the main thing that we're about: to alleviate pain and suffering."

Of the board's investigation into his practice, he said he is "glad to get this behind me."

"It ruined my reputation," said Grigsby, who is in his 50th year of practicing.

After the restrictions the board placed on him became public, Grigsby said, other doctors' offices often refused to treat his patients.

"That was the most humiliating aspect of the whole thing," he said.