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[ATG] State action to resume against license of sentenced pain doctor
Start Date: 9/19/2012Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 9/19/2012
Entry Description

INDIANAPOLIS – With prescription drug abuse a stubborn problem in Indiana, the case that Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s Office brought against the medical license of a Bloomington pain-clinic physician will resume now that Dr. Kamal Tiwari has been sentenced to 3 ½ years in federal prison. Tiwari allegedly overprescribed addictive pain medication to known substance abusers and committed health care fraud by seeking Medicaid reimbursement for performing medically unnecessary procedures. Several of Dr. Tiwari’s patients suffered serious health consequences as a result of his apparent indifference to their addictions, and five of his patients eventually died of drug overdoses.

 

Tiwari’s medical license was suspended in 2010 after the Attorney General’s Office took legal action and Tiwari has not been able to practice medicine or treat patients for the past two years. Disciplinary proceedings before the Indiana State Medical Licensing Board were put on hold until Tiwari’s separate criminal charges played out in federal court; they will resume now that he has been sentenced.

 

“We haven’t forgotten about the medical license which is a separate legal issue from this physician’s sentence on his criminal charges. Given the larger problem of prescription drug abuse in Indiana, our goal is to protect the public from any physicians that engage in this irresponsible conduct,” Zoeller said.

 

As a result of a partnership between the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) and federal investigators, Dr. Tiwari faced both criminal and administrative consequences for his activities. On April 30, 2010, the Attorney General’s Office filed an administrative licensing complaint with the Indiana State Medical Licensing Board, which hears disciplinary cases involving physicians’ licenses to practice medicine. In a 20-count complaint, the AG’s Office alleged Tiwari had become unfit to practice after knowingly prescribing powerful painkillers to 10 patients who were known substance abusers, five of whom later died of drug overdoses. The AG’s Office also alleged Tiwari in the treatment of those patients failed to exercise reasonable care and diligence; and that he reused the same syringes between patients, which carries the risk of contamination and infection. The AG’s Office later amended its complaint to allege Dr. Tiwari failed to notify his patients and staff at pain clinics where he practiced in Bloomington, New Albany and elsewhere that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had suspended his certification to prescribe controlled substances.

 

While the licensing proceedings were pending, federal prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s Office sought and obtained a grand jury indictment of Tiwari in June 2010 on criminal charges of health care fraud and unlawful distribution of drugs. Tiwari and the AG’s Office agreed to an indefinite suspension of his medical license on October 14, 2010, postponing the final licensing hearing until the criminal case was resolved.

 

Tiwari eventually pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis to charges of health care fraud and unlawful distribution of drugs. On Tuesday, the Court sentenced him to 3 ½ years in prison plus 3 years on supervised release and ordered Tiwari to pay nearly $1.3 million in restitution to Medicare, Medicaid and Anthem for defrauding those health insurance programs. Tiwari was not incarcerated immediately after sentencing; he must report to a federal prison in several weeks to begin serving his sentence.

 

The Attorney General’s Licensing Enforcement section now is ready to resume proceedings against Tiwari’s medical license and will attempt to obtain a resolution of the case prior to Tiwari reporting to federal prison, so that the matter is fully decided long before Tiwari is released from prison. In licensing actions, the AG’s Office presents the State’s case but the independent medical licensing board decides whether violations have occurred -- and if so, what the sanction against a physician will be, such as revocation or permanent or temporary suspension of a license.

 

“This case is a cautionary tale of the tragic outcomes when prescription drug abuse is facilitated by a physician’s overprescribing of narcotics,” Zoeller said.

 

In light of several licensing cases the AG’s Office has investigated where a few physicians knowingly overprescribed addictive painkillers to known substance abusers, Zoeller next week plans to announce his efforts to combat prescription drug abuse in cooperation with experts in law enforcement, public health and substance-abuse prevention. More details on that will be released later.

 

 

-30-

Contact Information:
Name: Bryan Corbin
Phone: 317.233.3970
Email: Bryan.Corbin@atg.in.gov
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