Belfast physician reaches agreement after license suspension

Posted June 27, 2012, at 5:50 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — An ear, nose and throat specialist whose license to practice was summarily suspended in October 2010 has reached an agreement with the Board of Licensure in Medicine that reinstates her license.

Dr. Elizabeth McBride had practiced with her then-husband, Dr. Harry Richter, as Maine Otolaryngology Surgery Associates in a building owned by Waldo County General Hospital. Her license was suspended because of concerns about the way she was prescribing opiate and narcotic medications, according to a statement from the board.

The agreement between McBride and the licensure board reached last week requires her to take several steps before she can begin practicing again, according to Randal Manning, the board’s executive director.

When and if she does begin practicing again, McBride’s license will be on probation for five years and she is limited in how she can prescribe painkillers. Her license was suspended for 19 months, retroactive to late 2010. She no longer is allowed to do surgery due to a wrist injury.

McBride also must undergo psychiatric counseling, is prohibited from using alcohol and certain drugs and is subject to random testing for such use, her work must be supervised by another physician and she must pay a $2,500 fine. Before returning to active practice, she must complete courses in medical ethics, record keeping and opioid prescribing.

McBride also agreed to accept a reprimand from the board.

Manning said the license was suspended after the board learned of irregularities in McBride’s prescription practices.

“The information came to us first through a physician,” Manning said, then an investigation that included interviewing some of McBride’s patients followed.

According to the finding of facts in the agreement, Richter, McBride’s then-husband and medical practice partner, reported that she “suffered from physical and mental conditions that affected her memory and behavior, including overdosing on medication … alcoholism … [and] failing to show up for scheduled surgical procedures.”

Another Belfast physician reported to the board that McBride “had been inappropriately prescribing narcotic medications” to a patient and his mother, according to the agreement. A state prescription monitoring program showed that McBride “prescribed over 1,000 tablets of narcotics” to the patient over a 30-day-period in the summer of 2010, a period during which she told board staff she was on leave.

The patient and his mother told the board McBride saw them “at her home, never in her medical practice,” according to the document.

Manning said after McBride’s license was suspended in October 2010, she had the right to request a hearing, but instead sought and was granted continuances. The consent agreement, with dozens of conditions and standards that McBride must meet, resolves the matter.

“The volume and frequency of the opiate/narcotic prescriptions should have raised significant concern about the appropriateness of their use,” the board states in the covenants section of the agreement. It also notes that McBride did not have a legitimate physician-patient relationship with the unnamed man and his mother for whom she was writing prescriptions.

A woman answering a phone call to an office number listed for McBride at Waldo County General Hospital said the physician no longer worked there and had no further information about her. There was no local phone listing in her name. A call to McBride’s attorney was not immediately returned.

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