A state regulatory panel has barred a Kentucky doctor from practicing after a federal grand jury accused him of writing improper prescriptions for pain drugs,
The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure (KBML) released the emergency suspension of Dr. David Suetholz's license Wednesday.
Suetholz, 73, was charged Oct. 14 with 10 counts of of distributing controlled substances "pursuant to prescriptions that were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose."
Suetholz is a family medicine doctor who also served as the elected coroner of Kenton County from June 1991 to June 2021, according to a court record.
The indictment listed 10 occasions between September 2018 and February 2020 when Suetholz allegedly wrote improper prescriptions for the opioids OxyContin, oxycodone or fentanyl.
The charges have a top sentence of 20 years each.
The licensure board said it considered the indictment and past board actions against Suetholz in suspending his license.
The board restricted Suetholz's prescribing authority between 2003 and 2005 and again between 2012 to 2014.
In the first case, the board received a complaint that Suetholz continued prescribing methadone to a woman even after he was informed she was selling it, according to a record from the board.
He disputed that, but a consultant who looked into Suetholz's prescribing concluded he had improperly prescribed methadone to more than one patient and kept at it for some period even after he became aware that what he was doing wasn't legal.
The consultant said Suetholz had an altruistic reason for prescribing the methadone - used to treat opioid use disorder - in order to help people who could not get into an authorized methadone program because of cost or unavailability.
Nonetheless, the conduct departed form the accepted standard of care, the consultant said.
In the other case, the board looked into a concern that Suetholz was inappropriately prescribing drugs such as oxycodone, Valium and Xanax, according to its records.
A consultant said Suetholz wasn't doing enough to monitor whether patients were misusing drugs, didn't address incidents of patients possibly selling pills and increased dosage for patients without adequately documenting the need, according to a board report.
After the investigation started, Suetholz began monitoring his patients, which resulted in him changing prescriptions for some and dismissing or reporting patients to authorities.
The board required him to take training on prescribing and pay $3,150 to cover the cost, and levied a $2,500 fine, according to its records.
Suetholz's attorneys, Kent Wicker and Bill Brammell, said in a statement that during earlier restrictions by the licensure board, Suetholz did what he was required to do in order to continue serving patients and was cleared to continue his practice.
"Now, without inquiry or investigation, the KBML has chosen to suspend his medical license in light of the federal government's irresponsible decision to charge him, second-guessing the decision making of a man who has dedicated his life to treating those suffering with addiction," the attorneys said.
Suetholz, a physician for 45 years, is worried about his patients "but is confident he will be vindicated," the statement said.