Just Say No to Doctors Who Overprescribe

You hear a lot about patients who seek drugs from doctors, but you don’t hear as much about doctors overprescribing drugs (“as much,” I said. We’ve previously discussed the Payette Clinic and its alleged overprescription of narcotics). Perhaps this is because most of us trust that doctors only prescribe medications that we really need. Why, after all, would a doctor want to drug us into oblivion? Why, indeed.

Well, Dr. David Earl of Moses Lake, Washington, is accused of doing just that–overprescribing pain medication to the point where some patients died. One such patient was 58-year-old Sharon Moore. She died of an overdose of narcotics in 2006. Earl had prescribed Moore Valium, morphine, methadone, and oxycodone. Her children say Moore was so impaired by all the medication that she would pass out at the dinner table and pull over to nap even on short drives.

Earl apparently had a reputation in the health care community for overprescribing narcotics, and there have been a number of complaints filed against him, even prior to Moore’s death. Unfortunately for the family of Sharon Moore, Earl’s shoddy medical history was unknown to them. Had they been aware of Earl’s reputation, they would have selected a different doctor.

Earl was suspended in September 2007 and though reinstated a few months later, he was not allowed to prescribe medication. Since 2009 he has been allowed to practice without restrictions. Currently, however, there is another state investigation on Earl, due to about a dozen other complaints.

Doctors are human, and they make mistakes, but it’s probably not the best idea to go to a doctor who has a history of medical complaints. Do your homework!