Board issues charges against area doctor
Members of the West Virginia Board of Osteopathy say they have found probable cause to issue a statement of charges that Dr. Philip Fisher departed from accepted standards of professional conduct related to prescribing drugs.
The board will now move forward with a hearing on its findings.
The board’s decision was released Wednesday in a statement of charges detailing 15 counts of pre-signed prescription forms, improper delegation of duties, failure to document the course of treatment, deviation from the standard of care and false statement and deceit in application for license.
The charges stem from the board’s investigation of two complaints, but the board dismissed a third. A fourth complaint was held for further investigation to allow Fisher additional time to respond and to give the board time to review some records now in the custody of the Drug Enforcement Administration, board president Diana Shepard said.
Shepard said the charges filed by the board are allegations and do not represent any legal finding of guilt or innocence, merely a decision by the board to proceed to a hearing. Fisher still possesses a license allowing him to practice medicine. Calls to his medical office and attorney were not returned late Wednesday.
Fisher’s Huntington Spine Rehab and Rest Ensured Sleep Technologies offices in Barboursville and his residence were searched by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the West Virginia State Police in December as part of an investigation into 14 overdose deaths. In one overdose case, the West Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reported a finding that the death was a result of combined Fetanyl, Xanax and doxylamine (a sleep aid) intoxication due to an application of a “non-prescribed” transdermal Fentanyl patch.
Just before Christmas, board members opted to expand its administrative investigation. The documents released Wednesday are a result of part of that investigation, and none of the charges links Fisher to any deaths.
A summary of the charges includes:
— A finding that Fisher signed medication prescription forms containing no patient information and no specifications or limitations on the drugs to be provided, including controlled substances.
— Seven counts of authorizing unlicensed employees to review patient requests and medical charts and complete prescription refills for patients without his review.
— Authorizing an unlicensed employee to meet with patients, review symptoms and medical charts and issue prescriptions for controlled substances, as well as review questions from other employees regarding patient requests for refills of controlled substances.
— Four counts of failure to document records of his assessment and evaluation of patients, including medical history, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, of patients prescribed controlled substances.
— Deviation from the standard of care in offering a procedure for the lower spine that caused numbness in the toes and episodes of burning and cramping in a patient’s leg. According to legal documents, Fisher told the patient to give it some time and joked that next time “he would use a crooked needle.”
— False statements and deceit in application for license, failing to disclose that he left an institution then known as University of Osteopathic Medicine and the Health Sciences, in Des Moines, Iowa, two months prior to the completion of the academic term after failing to pass a mandatory component of the program.
Fisher went on to graduate from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Missouri.
On Feb. 25, 1995, Fisher submitted a licensure application to the West Virginia Board of Osteopathy for admission to practice in the state. According to the statement of charges, Fisher answered “No,” on the part of the form that asked, “Have you ever been dropped, suspended, placed on probation, expelled or requested to resign from any school, college or university?”
Doren Burrell, senior assistant attorney general and counsel to the board, said the attorneys will discuss the charges and then try to set up a schedule for the hearing. He said the board will also look to see if any federal agency takes action from the material obtained under the search warrant from December.
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