Biddeford doctor reprimanded over narcotics prescription practices

Posted May 22, 2012, at 8:02 p.m.

BIDDEFORD, Maine — A physician affiliated with Southern Maine Medical Center has been reprimanded by state licensing officials in the wake of a patient’s apparent overdose death.

Stephen H. Doane, a Biddeford internist and geriatrician, was ordered by the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine to stop prescribing controlled drugs for chronic pain.

The board initiated a complaint against Doane after Biddeford police expressed concerns last year about his prescribing of controlled drugs, according to a May 18 consent agreement.

The patient, who is not named in the agreement, died of an apparent drug overdose on Jan. 18, 2011. Doane saw her on Jan. 7 and Jan. 10 of that year, and acknowledged several missteps that led him to prescribe a “significant amount of narcotics,” the agreement states.

He prescribed the patient Oxycodone, Xanax and Ambien, among other drugs.

At her first visit, Doane had not seen the patient’s most recent medical records, which indicated that another physician would no longer prescribe her narcotics, the agreement states. Her medical records also referenced a November 2010 hospitalization for an overdose that left the patient on a breathing machine, as well as a history of suicide attempts.

The patient was initially scheduled for a December 2010 appointment with Doane, and failed to show up. Doane received a telephone message that she had been in the hospital for three weeks, but he failed to recall the message during that first appointment with her in January 2011, according to the agreement.

Doane also acknowledged failing to check a prescription drug monitoring database prior to prescribing her the controlled substances.

Doane doubled the dose and frequency of the patient’s narcotics four days after prescribing her 15 days worth of drugs. He took full responsibility for prescribing that amount, according to the agreement.

Doane discussed the patient’s medical history with her, but she did not mention past substance abuse, the agreement states.

By signing the consent agreement, Doane conceded that the board had enough evidence to conclude that he failed to adhere to standards for using controlled medications to treat pain.

He was ordered to stop prescribing controlled medications for chronic pain, unless he has a chronic pain patient in skilled nursing or long-term care facilities, in hospice care, or who has metastatic cancer.

Doane, who was first issued a Maine medical license in 1985, is an employee of PrimeCare Physicians, a subsidiary of Southern Maine Medical Center, said Sue Hadiaris, vice president of planning and development for SMMC. Doane will continue to see patients as he abides by the requirements of the consent agreement, she said.

Doane agreed to reimburse the board $1,185 for the cost of the investigation.

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