The litany of pain specialist physicians who have run afoul of the drug war continues to grow. The latest case is that of Dallas osteopath Dr. Daniel Maynard, whose home, office and bank were raided by dozens of state and federal law enforcement agents on June 11. Some 30 to 40 patients waiting for Dr. Maynard when the raiders arrived were detained in handcuffs while police checked them for outstanding warrants.
According to a police affidavit filed in support of the search warrants, Maynard was suspected of prescribing narcotic painkillers for no good medical reason and of defrauding Medicare and Medicaid. The police affidavit listed 11 persons who had died after receiving prescriptions from Dr. Maynard.
But Maynard, speaking through his attorney, Jim Rolfe, denied any responsibility for the patient deaths. "No patient death is the result of any negligence on the part of Dr. Maynard," he told the Dallas Morning News. "We've racked our brains trying to figure out where that came from."
Rolfe has reason to be bemused. While the local press has trumpeted Maynard's alleged link to the 11 deaths, the press accounts of those deaths leave many questions. Of the 11, six were reported as "unexplained," one as hypertensive cardiovascular disease, one as congestive heart failure, one as a methadone overdose, one as an unspecified drug overdose, and one as chronic alcoholism and a drug overdose.
Still, that was enough for the raiders to effectively shut down Maynard's popular practice and for the state of Texas to remove his ability to receive Medicare reimbursements. Along with the seizure of his patient records, these acts have effectively ended Maynard's practice. Alongside these official acts have come the now familiar aspects of character assassination, as local media outlets report on the shocking fact that the doctor owns a pair of expensive homes and encourage relatives of the dead patients to blame the doctor. Some family members have now filed lawsuits against Dr. Maynard.
Not every paragraph of press ink was anti-Maynard, however. According to NBC 5 in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Maynard patient Delores Womack said, "You didn't just go in there and you would see the doctor. There was no coldness. Dr. Maynard really cared for you." Womack added, "You have to read the prescription and take it right," she said. "A lot of the people, they did it to their own selves, not Dr. Maynard."
Unlike too many of his fellow pain practitioners, Dr. Maynard so far has escaped criminal charges. But given the patterns of persecution and prosecution that have emerged in cases across the country, those charges shouldn't be long in coming as state and federal prosecutors vie to make careers on prosecuting "dope dealers with a license." In the meantime, Dr. Maynard's pain patients are scrambling to find a replacement. That could be tough to do, with physicians around the country shying away from effective medical practices that put them at risk of a nasty visit from the DEA.
The issue of the under-treatment of pain in the United States is a growing one, largely because of DEA prosecutions of pain doctors. DRCNet will examine the problem in its most recent manifestations in detail in the near future. Stay tuned.