Board alleges doctor illegally prescribed painkiller

August 25, 1994|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Sun Staff Writer

A state disciplinary board has charged an emergency room physician at Carroll County General Hospital with illegally prescribing a painkiller to the relative of a nurse.

The Maryland Board of Physician Quality Assurance alleges that the doctor prescribed the painkiller Dilaudid at the request of the nurse, who was addicted to the drug.

The board filed charges Tuesday against Dr. Robert L. Gossweiler, 61, an attending physician in Carroll County General's emergency room.

According to the charging papers, in December 1993 a nurse in the hospital's emergency department asked Dr. Gossweiler to prescribe a painkiller for a relative who had been diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

From December 1993 through February 1994, the board alleges, Dr. Gossweiler wrote 12 prescriptions for the painkiller Dilaudid, without examining the cancer patient for whom it was prescribed.

Dr. Gossweiler of Strausstown, Pa., declined to comment on the charges.

The nurse, who wasn't identified in the board's charging papers, no longer works at Carroll County General, said Linda Harder, the hospital's vice president of planning and marketing.

Ms. Harder would not comment on the circumstances under which the nurse left the hospital, nor would she say how long the nurse had worked there.

Dr. Gossweiler is on a leave of absence pending the outcome of an administrative hearing Nov. 16 by the Board of Physician Quality Assurance.

At the hearing Dr. Gossweiler could be reprimanded, placed on probation or have his license to practice medicine in Maryland suspended or revoked.

Twelve physicians and three health care consumers sit on the board.

Ms. Harder said Dr. Gossweiler is not employed directly by Carroll County General, but works for Professional Emergency Physicians of Baltimore.

In an arrangement common to many hospitals, Carroll County General contracts with the outside group to provide emergency physician services, Ms. Harder said.

A receptionist at Professional Emergency Physicians said the director of the company declined to comment on Dr. Gossweiler.

The Board of Physician Quality Assurance charges that Dr. Gossweiler "prescribed 1,140 tablets of Dilaudid . . . within 55 days for someone he had never seen, examined or treated when he knew that the patient was being cared for by another physician."

The board alleges that the nurse who requested the prescription for a relative was addicted to Dilaudid. The nurse's relative was being treated by an oncologist who regularly prescribed Dilaudid for pain, according to the charging papers.

Michael Compton, the board's executive director, wouldn't comment on why the board initiated an investigation of Dr. Gossweiler.

However, Mr. Compton said the board works closely with law enforcement agencies and pharmacists.

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