COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The Ohio State Medical Board voted Wednesday to permanently revoke the medical license of James Lundeen Sr.
The board's vote follows the recommendation of a hearing examiner who found last month that Lundeen was over prescribing medication to patients at his offices in Portsmouth and Plymouth.
"The medical board did the right thing today," said Attorney General DeWine. "Pill mills and overprescribing medications are killing Ohioans and hurting families. Putting a stop to these is a priority."
Investigators from the Attorney General's Office, Bureau of Workers Compensation, the State Highway Patrol, and other agencies raided Lundeen's offices last March. The State Medical Board suspended Lundeen's medical license in May, based on the finding that Lundeen's continued practice presented a danger to the public.
In August, the State Medical Board held an administrative hearing on this matter.
During this hearing, the Attorney General's Office presented evidence regarding 26 patients to demonstrate that Lundeen's practice of medicine fell below the minimal standards expected of care. Two of Lundeen's patients testified at the hearing, explaining that Lundeen did not perform even cursory physical evaluations at appointments when he would prescribe ever-increasing amounts of narcotics to them. These patients testified that, as a result of Lundeen's overprescribing, they became increasingly addicted to their prescriptions.
The official finds that Dr. James E. Lundeen Sr. prescribed more medication than necessary and says the Ohio State Medical Board should bar him from practicing in the state.
Lundeen says the state is trying to defame him after he filed a lawsuit alleging the Bureau of Workers' Compensation failed to properly file bills. He says he has three federal civil rights lawsuits pending, alleging the state is treating him unfairly.
Lundeen had his license temporarily suspended in May, which he appealed in August.
UPDATE 11/16/11 @ 10:20 p.m.
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ ) -- A doctor whose medical license was suspended after accusations of running a pill mill spoke out Wednesday.
In March, Dr. James Lundeen's office in Portsmouth was raided for evidence of overprescribing medication to patients.
Dr. Lundeen told WSAZ.com he's completely innocent. He even says he's a target.
"I have a license in the state of Ohio that is inactive because of unconstitutional actions and further retaliation taken by the state Medical Board," Lundeen said.
Several agencies in Ohio believe otherwise. They say he was prescribing too much medication and seeing too many patients.
However, Lundeen says he wasn’t overprescribing prescription medication.
“Not relative to the chronic condition of the patients," he said. "I tend to be very selective. I take patients who are permanent, total or Social Security disability, predominantly. That means they've been certified as having a bad problem."
Lundeen believes he was targeted because he had previously filed lawsuits against the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation, and planned to file more.
"That was the reason," he said. "That's obstruction of justice."
In the end, Lundeen believes his name will be cleared, but he doesn't know if his reputation will ever be the same.
"All of this will work out," he said. "It's just going to be a slow process. Unfortunately, it's very difficult of the former patients. Many of them still can't find a physician. Some physicians won't take them, only because they're associated with my case."
A Portsmouth judge is waiting for written statements from Lundeen and state attorneys before making a decision about the legality of a Blackberry cell phone that was seized during the raid in March.
Representatives with Ohio Attorney General’s Office told WSAZ.com they could not make a statement because of the active investigation and ongoing litigation.
The release states the decision was made "after determining that there is clear and convincing evidence that Dr. Lundeen violated the Medical Practice Act and his continued practice presents a danger of immediate and serious harm to the public. The suspension is effective immediately."
Rob Nichols, spokesperson for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, released the following statement:
"The governor congratulates the board, is extremely happy with their decision, and hopes they will continue to take a very aggressive approach moving forward."
The news release from the State Medical Board of Ohio goes on to say, "The Board alleges that in care provided to 26 patients, Dr. Lundeen failed to conduct appropriate physical examinations and excessively and inappropriately prescribed narcotic pain medication and other drugs of abuse despite indications of possible addiction, drug abuse, or diversion in some patients.
"The Board further alleges that Dr. Lundeen often prescribed increasing dosages of narcotics which were not supported by any objective change in medical status of the patients, and
his medical management and/or treatment was not appropriate to the patient’s diagnosis or clinical situation.
"The Medical Board cited additional facts about Dr. Lundeen’s practice situation as atypical from standard medical practice. He maintained one main office and operated approximately 12 different offices across the state of Ohio. For example, he worked in Portsmouth, Ohio in Scioto County one day every two weeks, treating approximately 90 patients per day, often with 30-40 people waiting at one time. By Dr. Lundeen’s own statement, 'a high percentage' of the
patients received controlled substances.
"On March 16, 2011, State Medical Board investigators participated with other agencies in the raid of Dr. Lundeen’s offices in Plymouth and Portsmouth, Ohio.
"A video of Dr. Lundeen’s Plymouth office was recorded at the time of the raid which showed that Dr. Lundeen failed to maintain the office in a clean, sanitary or safe condition. Some examples included: dozens of boxes of paper stacked several high throughout the office; a mattress without sheets; exposed walls, no drywall or missing drywall; exposed insulation in the walls; exposed wires hanging loose from the ceiling; and dirt, trash and trash bags accumulated on the floor.
"The video also showed that Dr. Lundeen failed to adequately or appropriately equip and supply his Plymouth, Ohio, medical office.
"Dr. Lundeen has the right to request a hearing regarding the suspension of his license. His medical license remains suspended under the Summary Suspension Order until the Medical Board issues a final disciplinary order."
Melissa Vince with the BWC tells WSAZ.com that Dr. James Lundeen was de-certified as a BWC provider last Friday.
Vince says injured workers can continue to go to Lundeen if they choose, however, they will become responsible for their payments.
Dr. Lundeen has seven days from the de-certification to request a hearing.
In the meantime, the BWC's investigation continues and they are currently reviewing evidence.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.
"About noon time, one of our employees came in and said, 'Sam, there are a lot of law enforcement people down the hall at Dr. Lundeen's office.' Sure enough, we had about 10 agencies that descended upon the doctors office down there and began interviewing patients," McKibbin said.
Many patients were streaming into Lundeen’s office throughout the day.
"You see people come to the office. He's only here on average about one day a month, because he has other offices around the state," McKibbin said.
According to investigators, Lundeen ranks second in the state of Ohio for prescribing narcotic pills to injured workers.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said 43 patients had already been seen by Lundeen when the raid began at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Bureau of Worker's Compensation CEO Stephen Buehrer said Lundeen's office in Plymouth, Ohio, also was raided.
“Not only are we seeing it in this community, we're seeing Dr. Lundeen's same pattern in other communities across the state. Again, the same type of thing. The same pattern of over prescribing injured workers," Buehrer said.
It's a pattern that’s now being shut down, beginning in Scioto County.
"It seems like they think these problems aren't going to go away, and it's time to put the hammer down," McKibbin said.
WSAZ contacted Lundeen, but he declined to comment.
The investigation is still ongoing.
No arrests have been made.
Investigators told us as of 12:30 p.m. when they first moved in on the office, Dr. James Lundeen had already seen 43 patients Wednesday. There were plenty more arriving while we were there.
Officers and special agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Ohio State Highway Patrol raided Lundeen's office, located in downtown Portsmouth at 602 Chillicothe St.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation has been investigating Lundeen for several years on suspicion of fraud and prescribing unusually high amounts of pain pills to injured workers receiving workers comp.
“We do know he is prescribing a high number of narcotics in Scioto County, said Stephen Buehrer, CEO/Administrator for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. "Sixty-one percent of all prescriptions in the BWC’s system are prescribed by this doctor. So, clearly there's something going on.”
“Nine point eight million (9.8 million) pain pills are being prescribed in this county. Now, they're not all staying here. They're going to Kentucky, they're going to West Virginia, they're going to other counties in Ohio," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said.
Agents also raided a second office of Lundeen's in the northern part of the state in Huron County.
This investigation is ongoing.
More information is expected to be released at 3 p.m. press conference.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office says the raid is taking place at 602 Chillicothe Street.
At this time, the Attorney General has not released any information on whose office is being raided, or if any evidence has been collected.
According to a press release, agents from the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI) and Health Care Fraud Section along with the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation, Pharmacy Board of Ohio, Medical Board of Ohio, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Department of Taxation, Scioto County Prosecutor's Office, Scioto County Sheriff's Office, and the Portsmouth Police Department are participating in the raid.
A similar search warrant is being executed at a business in Plymouth, Ohio
"Today's raid is the beginning of an unprecedented and coordinated effort with more than 10 state and local agencies coming together to fight prescription drug abuse," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in the press release.
DeWine is in Portsmouth for the raid.
WSAZ has crewed headed to the scene.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.