Kentucky Doctor Suspended After Patient Deaths

September 28, 2012

Kentucky medical officials have suspended the license of a Florence physician after 14 of his patients died from drug overdoses.

The Kentucky Enquirer reported the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure suspended Dr. Gary Shearer’s license on Monday. The 67-year-old Shearer is not charged with any crime. His medical practices are under investigation by federal authorities.

State officials said the 14 patient deaths came over three years among patients from 30 to 59 years of age.

The state investigation began in November after the board was alerted Shearer was one of the state’s most frequent prescribers of the powerful painkiller oxycodone.

Shearer’s attorney, Bob Sanders, said his client did nothing wrong and is cooperating with the federal authorities.

“Nobody has ever died as a result of taking drugs prescribed by Dr. Shearer as they were prescribed by Dr. Shearer,” Sanders said. “I guarantee it.”

He said Shearer’s legal team did their own investigation and found that many of the overdoses were not on prescribed medicine, but on the illegal drug heroin. He said a doctor can’t make patients follow dosing instructions or stay away from other drugs.

“Unless the doctor goes home with every patient, I don’t know how they are supposed to control that,” he said.

The state began investigating Shearer in November after its prescription drug monitoring system showed him as a top prescriber of pain pills.

Shearer’s “failure to comply with acceptable and prevailing practices in the treatment and monitoring of patients prescribed controlled substances, and (Shearer’s) fraudulent and unethical behavior, demonstrates that (Shearer) has not exhibited the ability to practice medicine safely,” the medical board’s emergency order of suspension said.

Shearer has 10 days to ask the medical board in Louisville to hold an emergency hearing and in which he could request that the suspension be lifted.

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