A criminal case just concluded in Pensacola underscores the potential for the improper prescription of potent and addictive painkillers by Florida doctors. I have investigated the prescribing patterns of some Tampa Bay physicians and concluded that grossly negligent and reckless practices exist. In one civil action for medical malpractice I have uncovered a beautifully typed office record of prescriptions that were described by one expert as “inconsistent with life.” Not surprisingly, the patient died of an overdose.
Excerpts from the Miami Herald article detailing the insane, criminal conduct of the M.D./Drug Dealer:
MD convicted of 5 patients’ deaths
The 70-year-old physician was charged with over-prescribing powerful painkillers. His practice, the prosecutor said, became a ‘destination’ for drug seekers statewide.
PENSACOLA – A federal jury convicted an Apalachicola doctor Monday of causing the deaths of five of his patients through overdoses of highly potent painkillers including morphine and oxycodone.
Dr. Thomas G. Merrill kept his head down as the verdict was read, and family members sobbed loudly as the 70-year-old former Air Force doctor was taken away.
He was convicted on 98 of 100 counts, including illegally dispensing controlled substances, defrauding healthcare benefit programs and wire fraud. Merrill’s attorney, Jim Appleman, said he would appeal the conviction.
Prosecutor Stephen Kunz told jurors that Merrill’s practice became a destination for drug-seekers throughout Florida. Kunz said Merrill wrote 33,000 prescriptions from January 2001 through May 2004 and 81 percent of those were for controlled substances.
Jurors found Merrill’s actions led to the deaths of Bridgette Persinger, 53, in Panama City in 2002; Leslie Dyer, 39, in Gulf County in 2003; Deanna Hayes, 58, in Franklin County in 2003; Kenneth Noels, 38, in Panama City in 2003; and Katherian Seay, 47, in Franklin County in 2003.