State sanctions Ithaca psychiatrist accused of prescribing too many drugs
By James T. Mulder
January 11, 2017
The state put Dr. Bernard Member on probation for three years, made him get another doctor to monitor his practice and ordered him to take a class in appropriate prescribing.
The state Board for Professional Medical Conduct said Member prescribed an excessive amount of drugs to a patient he was treating for post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
Member prescribed Klonopin, a sedative, and Propranolol, a beta blocker, to treat the patient’s anxiety, along with Wellbutrin, an anti-depressant, and Adderall, a stimulant, for depression. The state called this type of prescribing “excessive” and said Member did not adequately document the reason for prescribing these drugs or whether he discussed their benefits and side effects with the patient.
Andrew Knoll, Member’s attorney, said the doctor disagreed with the state on that issue. Knoll said he prescribed the multiple medications because some address symptoms faster than others.
“People can disagree over therapies, especially in psychiatry,” Knoll said. “There was no patient harm.”
Under state law most doctors are required to review a patient’s recent prescription history online before giving them, or renewing, a prescription for opioids and other controlled substances. This requirement is intended to curb abuse by showing whether patients are getting these drugs from other prescribers, a practice known as “doctor shopping.”
The state cited four instances in which Member failed to consult the online directory. Knoll said Member did not check the directory for a period of time because he’s a solo practitioner and found the online registry difficult to navigate. He now uses the registry regularly, Knoll said.
The state charged Member with negligence on more than one occasion and failure to maintain records. In a signed consent order, Member did not contest the second charge and agreed to the disciplinary penalty.