A Bellingham osteopathic physician and surgeon has been charged with unprofessional conduct for his treatment of 11 patients with chronic pain.
Gregory D. Sharp allegedly violated the standard of care for the cases, which occurred from 2003 through 2010, according to the state Board of Osteopathic Surgery and Medicine.
Sharp has until Oct. 19 to respond to the allegations in the statement of charges, according to Sharon Moysiuk, spokeswoman for the Washington state Department of Health. At that point, Sharp can request a hearing or enter into a settlement negotiation, she said.
Sharp referred calls seeking comment to his attorney, Ron Friedman.
"He is a good and compassionate physician," Friedman said. "He works in a difficult area, which is pain practice."
Friedman said it has only been in the past few years that the state has enacted additional legislation designed to provide greater direction to pain-practice physicians, and to address some of the issues in the allegations against Sharp. Nevertheless, Friedman said "we believe that the care provided was appropriate."
In the statement of charges released this week, the board alleged several issues, including that Sharp:
- Didn't adequately record the history, physical exam or treatment plan for a number of patients, including the need for narcotic medication in one instance or the type of narcotic medication and dosage in another case. In other instances, he didn't examine patients adequately.
- Didn't indicate in one patient's records the reasons is diagnoses varied from visit to visit, or why they were changed.
- Didn't explain in the records of another patient when he started prescribing methadone to the patient or the dosage level, with the board noting the records "do not justify methadone prescriptions."
- Wrote 27 prescriptions for opioids for one patient between Nov. 6, 2006, and April 15, 2008, and he refilled prescriptions without putting a pain management contract in place. He later learned the patient had been obtaining opioids from several other doctors while he was treating her.
- Was involved with ibogaine, a substance he knew was illegal in the United States. He ingested it in Canada and paid for his daughter to receive it in the U.S., both in 2009. He also gave a patient the name and contact information for a distributor in the U.S., according to the board.
"The important thing to know about it is it's (ibogaine) not a drug of abuse," Friedman said, adding that it's been used in other parts of the world to treat drug addiction.
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