Hospital chief put on probation Spring Grove's superintendent cited over prescriptions.

October 31, 1991|By Frank D. Roylance and Sue Miller | Frank D. Roylance and Sue Miller,Evening Sun Staff

The superintendent of the state's Spring Grove Hospital Center for the mentally ill has been placed on probation by the state Board of Physician Quality Assurance for writing improper prescriptions in his private psychiatric practice.

Dr. Bruce L. Regan, of Catonsville, was placed on three years' probation last week for prescribing narcotics in a manner "clearly outside the accepted standard of care." He was also ordered to undergo psychiatric therapy and evaluation.

J. Michael Compton, the board's acting executive director, said today that the action against Regan had nothing to do with the doctor's work at Spring Grove.

The investigation included a review of both his private practice and his hospital prescription policies and found "he is perfectly fine in his hospital practice," Compton said.

Regan, who has been superintendent at Spring Grove since 1987, today declined to comment on the disciplinary action.

Mike Golden, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which oversees Spring Grove, said today that Health Secretary Nelson J. Sabatini and officials with the state Mental Health Administration "are reviewing the case" but have reached no decision about "what if anything needs to be done."

Golden said that Regan's position "is administrative and does not involve direct patient care. . . . The case before the board has little relevance at this point to his guidance of the facility."

In one case cited by the board, Regan was found to have prescribed narcotic analgesics, including injectable drugs, "outside the area of his expertise" over a 10-year period ending in 1990.

For another patient, who was described as profoundly disturbed and a borderline substance abuser, Regan prescribed benzodiazepines, or tranquilizers, the board said. Even though Regan noted the possibility of over-medication in the patient's medical record, the practice seemed to continue, the board said.

The board warned Regan that if he fails to meet rigorous probation conditions, his license could be suspended.

Regan will be allowed to continue his private practice only under the supervision of one of three board-chosen psychiatrists, who will report quarterly to the board. Regan has also been ordered to participate in psychotherapy with a board-designated therapist at least weekly during the next three years.

Around Nov. 15, Regan must submit to a psychiatric evaluation by one of five board-designated physicians, the board said. The re-evaluation will continue at least yearly during his probation.

Regan also will have to pay all costs associated with the conditions of his probation.

In separate action last week, the Board of Physician Quality Assurance summarily suspended the medical license of a Baltimore psychiatrist on charges of improperly prescribing addictive pain killers, tranquilizers and sleeping pills in treating drug addicts.

The board found that Dr. Else M. Hillgard, 65, of the 100 block of W. Read St. in Baltimore, posed "a grave risk and an imminent danger to the public health, safety and welfare." The board said that she improperly prescribed addictive pain killers, tranquilizers, sleeping pills and other drugs in her treatment of drug addicts.

Hillgard's license was suspended pending a hearing Nov. 20, at which her license could be revoked or restricted. She was ordered to surrender the license, prescription pads and the state and federal certificates that allow her to prescribe controlled drugs in Maryland.

Hillgard was first licensed in Maryland in 1971. She had medical privileges at the Liberty Medical Center.

Her attorney, Stuart H. Arnovits, said yesterday of her case that "a lot of the charges will not be sustained, from what I can see." He said "there were some forgeries of her prescriptions, and some thefts."

Hillgard had two days' warning before the suspension, Arnovits said. She sought to delay the action until she could mount a defense, but the board denied a continuance. He declined further comment.

Compton called the Hillgard case an "extreme" case of prescription abuse and likened her suspension before a hearing to the denial of bail to a suspect accused of a serious crime.

In its suspension order, the board said that Hillgard's activities began as early as October 1987 and continued through last month despite investigations and intervention in 1990 by federal drug authorities and the state medical society.

In one case cited by the board, Hillgard in October 1988 began prescribing a variety of drugs to a known drug addict who was enrolled in a methadone program.

TC Between Oct. 25, 1988, and May 16, 1989, and without consulting with the methadone program physician, the board said, Hillgard wrote 31 prescriptions for this patient, a total of 1,310 tablets. The drugs included pain killers, tranquilizers and Phenergan, a cough suppressant often used by drug abusers to enhance the effects of other drugs.

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