CLEVELAND -- Drug overdose death is now the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio, and often the first drug dealer is the medicine cabinet with prescription painkillers. And while the majority of those drugs were prescribed with good intention, some doctors are cashing in.
"If you were an alcoholic, they would go after you, but if you were prescribing too many pain pills and really acting as a drug dealer, they were pretty slow about it," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said, talking about the state medical board.
The board is the disciplinarian that deals out punishment, typically license revocation, to rogue doctors. In the past they've been accused of being slow and soft in action and punishment. But since the opiate crisis, times have changed.
"The attitude should be that we hold them (doctors) to a higher standard, and, while we all rely on great doctors every day, there's a few of them out there that are killing people," DeWine says.
In 2010, doctors prescribed enough opioid painkillers to give 67 doses to every Ohioan. Many were driven to do so by patient satisfaction surveys and the shift of considering pain a vital sign. But now doctors are cutting back and many of the addicted are now turning to cheaper heroin. But there are still some pill mill docs out there, and a new aggressive medical board is targeting them.
"Bad prescribing practices and those kinds of issues should become priority, and I think this board's made them priority," says state medical board Director Aaron Haslam. He's not a doctor, he's a former prosecutor.
"We're protecting the public from those unscrupulous bad physicians that are out there and other licencees, and that's what we do as prosecutors -- we protect the public from those that commit crimes," Haslam says.
WKYC's Bad Medicine investigation reveals disciplinary actions taken against medical professionals who are subject to review by the Ohio Medical Board.
Our investigation uncovers more than 150 doctors and other licensed medical workers who faced discipline between 2008 and 2013. Search our director here - http://bit.ly/FindMyDoctor