Psychiatrist Reprimanded In Treatment Of Opiate Addicts
July 15, 2014
By Josh Kovner
An Ellington psychiatrist who has paid $60,000 in state and federal fines to settle violations in the way she dispensed medication to treat opiate addicts was reprimanded Tuesday by the Medical Examining Board, ending discipline in the case.
Dr. Erum Shahab, who practices at 105 West Road, was investigated by federal drug agents and the state Department of Consumer Protection in 2010 and 2011 for her failure to properly dispense Suboxone. The drug is in high demand as an alternative to Methadone for people who are trying to wean themselves off opiates.
Shahab’s problem, Department of Public Health lawyer David Tilles told the medical board, was her failure to keep track of her Suboxone inventory and to document the dosages she was prescribing to patients.
She paid a $40,000 civil penalty as part of an agreement with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and a $20,000 penalty in a settlement with consumer protection in December 2012. Her drug-dispensing permit was also placed on probation for two years.
Tilles said those were largest fines he’s heard about in the last 16 years. He said, however, that it did not appear that Shahab harmed patients. As a result, Tilles said the DPH was recommending a reprimand for Shahab.
In the past, the medical board has issued civil penalties against doctors whose prescribing practices have compromised patients’ health.
“When you look at the DEA’s investigation, (her handling of Suboxone) “was really sloppy … but there was not clear evidence that she deviated from the standard of (patient) care,” said Tilles.
Shahab’s lawyer, Katherine Callahan of Hartford, said that while Shahab still has her permit to dispense controlled-drugs, she no longer keeps any of the drugs in her office.
Tilles said her prescribing practices “are much better organized than they used to be.”…