Healthcare News & Insights

68 deaths later, doc on trial for writing bad prescriptions

needle-and-vials

Most doctors would re-examine their protocols for writing prescriptions after a few dozen patients overdosed. Not Dr. Stephen Schneider.

The Haysville, Kansas-based doctor ran a small family practice. According to prosecutors, from 2002 to 2007, the practice served as a “pill mill” with drug-seeking addicts being run through the office in appointments that lasted as little as five minutes.

Over the years, 68 of Schneider’s patients fatally overdosed. Prosecutors allege that Schneider wrote (and illegally allowed his assistants to write) prescriptions for a variety of narcotics, including Fentanyl, Morphine, Oxycodone and Methadone. He’s also accused of  wrongfully billing health insurers for more than $4 million for the prescriptions. Prosecutors said some of the services were billed during times that Schneider wasn’t in the office.

Schneider claims his patients used narcotics at a higher-than-usual rate because he was one of the few doctors in the area willing to treat Medicaid patients or those with chronic pain. He also testified that he found it “hard to say ‘no'” when patients said they had pain that needed to be managed with medication. He claims that in retrospect he was “duped” by some patients who were addicts.

He testified that for a typical patient he would prescribe one long-acting narcotic to be taken once a day, and another shorter-acting narcotic for break-through pain.

Schneider faces life in prison if convicted of all charges. His wife, Linda, a nurse who helped run the practice, is also charged. We’ll keep you posted on the trial’s outcome.

Weigh in: Was Schneider just an easy mark for drug-seeking patients or was he knowingly complicit in their crimes?

  • Pam

    I feel for the doc, however some patients can become easily addicted to pain medication, the meds will give you comfort and ease lots of pain. I almost was addicted to flexiril such a tiny pill had so much power, I had to pull myself off that drug. Now such as medicaid patients, it’s very hard for the insurance company to cover such drugs, therefore the patient will have to go down to a much lower grade of medication that will not treat their pain. I understood what the doctor said in regards to medicaid patients and I understand him helping those patients out, however there should had been a cut off point for him regardless. Now he should be charge with allowing his nurses to write prescriptions without his consent. I worked in a previous doctors office and this young lady wrote prescriptions for herself and she was caught and is still serving time in jail.

  • Could b Lewis, DO

    The physician should have enough since to review records and to be aware rather than enabling the patient just because there was no place else. So many people are uneducated about the addicting qualities of pain medications (opioid). Medicaid patients are the worst b/c they know how to lie!!!!!! It’s a known truth. The doctor should have directed or informed the patients to alternative clinics. He broke the Hippocratic oath every doctor takes to do NO HARM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Kim

    We had a very similar situation occur in Omaha, NE. It took years for the DEA and FBI to build the case against the MD even after 2 deaths. No criminal charges were brought but his DEA license was revoked and he has since left medical practice. Many of his patients were self pay. Such an easy cash flow situation can become “addicting” in and of itself when it is so hard to make a reasonable living as a primary care physician. So much of the work we do is not billable ie. nursing home paperwork. Pain patients and their care is challenging and often unrewarding.

  • Pam

    I just want to make a comment on one of the previous comments about medicaid “patients know how to lie” everyone can tell a lie whether they are a medicaid patient or not, the wealthiest people in the world can tell a lie to get what he/she need and want. Look at Michael Jackson’s situation and the doc, Michael was not on medicaid but was still being administered because he was wealthy, and his doctor should had known to stop Michael’s pain meds but he didn’t he decide to watch him while he slept (per the report). That doc was getting paid big time. Some folks on medicaid are not bad people just in a bad situation, however some folks take advantage of the system.

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