Orange County Register
Laguna Niguel psychiatrist disciplined for dispensing meds without prescription
By Jenna Chandler
September 29, 2014
Laguna Niguel-based psychiatrist Ellis Michael Schwied had his license suspended by the California Medical Board after he was accused of giving a patient samples of a depression medication without a prescription.
According to the medical board, Schwied gave samples of Lexapro to the 20-year-old patient’s mother and also left them in unmarked brown paper bags on her porch.
“He is a well-respected psychiatrist in the community,” said Schwied’s attorney, Joel Bruce Douglas. “There was no malice or ill will, maybe just not the best of judgment.”
The board disciplined Schwied, who has been licensed to practice since 1982, on Aug. 22. Among other actions, the board suspended his license for 15 days and placed him on probation for seven years. The actions were to take effect Sept. 19.
According to a medical board document, the psychiatrist began dating his patient’s mother in December 2008, a few days after their first consultation. During that visit, Schwied told the patient he knew the woman’s mother and asked if it would be OK to ask her on a date.
Schwied prescribed the patient Xanax and dispensed some Lexapro samples but only saw her again in his capacity as a doctor a second and final time in March 2010. On several occasions during a 16-month period, he left Lexapro samples with her mother while visiting her or picking her up for dates but never issued prescriptions for them or documented them in the patient’s chart, according to medical board documents.
Douglas said Schwied did not neglect the patient and said she made several visits to his office.
The board accuses Schwied of gross negligence for developing a relationship with the patient’s mother, for diagnosing the patient with social anxiety and general anxiety disorder without an “adequate basis” and for not developing a treatment plan or scheduling follow-up appointments.
The board also disciplined Schwied for striking up a friendship with another patient between 2003 and 2006, inviting him to watch him play the fiddle and dining at the patient’s house.
“The time this occurred was not the best time in his life,” Douglas said. “He’s since made great strides in recognizing the importance of … keeping the focus on patients and keeping his social life separate.”