Doctor in prescription case kills himself



David Thurman found dead in his office
By JESSIE HALLADAY
The Courier-Journal
30 Jun 2004

A doctor accused of improperly prescribing pain medication to patients killed himself in his Barret Avenue office Monday night, authorities said.

David H. Thurman, 62, died of a gunshot wound in the head, according to Jo-Ann Farmer, a Jefferson County deputy coroner, who said yesterday that she pronounced him dead at the scene. He left a note, but Farmer declined to release it, saying it is not a public record.

Thurman was found in his office by his wife, who had become worried when he did not come home on time, Farmer said.

In October, Thurman's medical license was suspended by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure. The board also filed a disciplinary complaint that accused Thurman of running a "substandard" medical practice, said J. Fox DeMoisey, Thurman's civil attorney.

The suspension followed an August 2002 complaint alleging that Thurman had inappropriately prescribed methadone to a patient who later died of an overdose, according to a 16-page suspension order.

Thurman's suspension was later overturned, but he was prohibited from writing prescriptions for controlled substances pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing, DeMoisey said in an interview last night. A hearing on that disciplinary complaint has been going on over the past two to three weeks, DeMoisey said. That hearing was expected to conclude next month.

"We're about ready to turn this thing around," said DeMoisey, who had expected to present expert witnesses favorable to Thurman in the next two weeks.

After the hearing concluded, the hearing officer would have had 60 days to make a recommendation to a panel of the medical board, which DeMoisey said he expected would have reviewed Thurman's case in November.

"Over the course of time, (Thurman) believed that he would be vindicated, but the legal process kept grinding on and on," DeMoisey said. It had been three or four days since DeMoisey spoke to his client, when they met to go over his defense.

"That was the most upbeat I've seen him in awhile," he said.

A criminal investigation of Thurman also was under way by Metro Narcotics police officers and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents, according to Thurman's suspension order.

No criminal charges had been filed against Thurman, said Scott C. Cox, who was his criminal attorney. Cox said Monday night that he had spoken with Thurman on Friday but that there were no new developments in the criminal investigation.

"I felt like he was going to come through all this in time," Cox said.

The suspension order said that a DEA investigator told the medical board that in September 2002, an undercover officer saw Thurman and got a "cursory examination for (a) stiff back." That officer then got a prescription for 60 tablets of methadone at 10 milligrams each. That officer returned a month later and allegedly told Thurman that he had no pain and that allegedly Thurman "gave him another prescription" for 120 methadone tablets at 10 milligrams each.

Thurman was a graduate of the University of Louisville's School of Medicine and a Vietnam veteran who worked as a combat physician, Cox said. Thurman has been in private practice since 1975, according to his Web site.






Doctor Fighting For License After Being Suspended For Prescribing Pain Pills

Date: Sat, 31 Jan 2004 22:17:57 EST
From: [email protected]

Subject: Dr Thurman Fighting For License After Being Suspended For Prescribing Pain Pills
To: [email protected]
Cc: [email protected]
By Eric Flack

(LOUISVILLE, January 30th, 2004, 1 p.m.) -- A Louisville physician the State Medical Licensure board called a "danger to the public" faces criminal charges for illegally prescribing powerful painkillers. But that didn't stop him from going to court Thursday to get his license back.

Three months ago, Dr. David Thurman walked away from his job, a doctor in name only after the Medical Licensure Board revoked his power to prescribe pain medication.

Thurman's attorney, Fox DeMoisey, says the process the board went through to revoke Thurman's license was "a sham -- nothing happens, it's all done in secret."

On Thursday, DeMoisey was in court trying to get the Thurman's license back. Investigators say Thurman, who treats chronic pain, was handing out methadone and OxyContin with little or no oversight. One couple was reportedly getting 900 pills a month. The state also blamed Thurman for the death of a patient who died from a drug overdose. But DeMoisey argued the suspension was unfair because doctors facing suspension aren't allowed to defend themselves at the revocation hearing.

"Nobody has a rule like the medical board does where they simply produce their own document as their evidence, and then say that is substantial evidence and we get to use hearsay. Nobody else does that."

The Medical Licensure Board told WAVE 3 News Thurman had his say. He was interviewed by an investigator, and gave written explanations of his actions.

Alex Daythorne, a prosecutor looking into possible criminal charges, says the board made the right call. "I wouldn't call him Dr. Feel Good" he said. "I might call him Dr. Dangerous."

Last year, Thurman's lawyer won a similar case with another client who's medical license was revoked. If the judge rules in Thurman's favor. He could immediately start prescribing pain medication again. As for the criminal case, the prosecutor told us to expect news very soon.






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