As many know, I practiced Internal Medicine in New Hanover Co. for roughly thirty years. During that time, I had a policy of not prescribing pain medication except for very short periods; at most ten days to two weeks.
After leaving my Internal Medicine practice, I took a series of temporary assignments where the usual physician was temporarily away or in emergency Departments, etc. I quickly learned that my conservative view on prescribing pain medication was not widely held among other physicians.
In 2009, a lady that I had worked with on a previous, temporary assignment, asked me to work in her pain clinic. I took several months to give her an answer. I reflected on the various aspects of treating chronic pain patients and finally agreed to try it. I worked with her for a year without pay. I learned that, while there were certainly patients who abuse pain medicines, there were also many who had a legitimate need. Patients who had several operations to alleviate the cause and yet still suffered with daily pain. Prescribing pain medication long term, has become accepted practice in the view of physicians across the country. There is a new specialty board to train and certify physicians in the treatment of pain. Wilmington had several “pain clinics” already and they were opening across the country. I always kept an eye out for persons willing to abuse pain medicines for recreational reasons and declined to prescribe for them. After a year, the clinic owner left the practice and I opened my own practice.
I placed a large sign over my office door announcing that we were specializing in pain management. We contacted local physicians and informed them what we offered. We attracted a number of appropriate patients. Patients coming to our office were required to produce documents from other physicians who specialized in their problem and had prescribed for them. Customarily, they came with a letter from that specialist, stating that they had thoroughly investigated the problem and could do nothing else to remedy the pain. Many times, patients were referred for Physical Therapy, given steroid injections or other modalities for relief of their pain. When we saw a patient that could not document the source of the pain with xrays, ect. we referred them to another specialist for further investigation.
One exception arose when a man that I knew personally came and asked for a small supply of pain medicine that he had used previously with success. After thoroughly exploring alternatives, I gave him a small quantity, that I felt should meet his needs. While he was there he asked for a favor. He said that his cousin, who had arrived in Wilmington for her annual summer visit, had forgotten her usual medication and asked if I would prescribe a months supply for the duration of her visit. I insisted that she come to see me in person but did ultimately prescribe them for her. It later turned out that they had concocted a lie. She was not his cousin and was an SBI agent.
I also had a problem with secretaries, who I am told were calling in medications for patients without permission, taking prescriptions from my office and filling them out and several other things. I discharged each in turn, immediately.
On May 6th, 2010, the Wilmington Police were waiting at my office when I arrived, to arrest me. After interrogating me, I was sent to the county jail. My bond was initially set at $15,000.00 but before I could act, I was informed that the District Attorney's office had called and asked that it be raised to one million and fifteen thousand. I stayed in the county jail 5 months before a visiting judge lowered it to one hundred and fifty thousand. Before I could post that, it was raised to three hundred and fifty thousand dollars. My son posted the bond and I was released. All of this, in spite of the fact, that I had no prior record, had been a physician in this county for more than 30 years, owned real estate here but most of all........was not guilty. In my opinion, I was not aflight risk. I believe that they were just trying to make me confess to something that I felt I was not guilty. After 5 months in jail, in September 2010, I was released from jail on house arrest, but not allowed to live in my own home. Instead, I was required to live with my son. I could go to court and to attorney visits only. No grocery, physician appointments, or any other liberties. After more than a year on house arrest, I went to court unscheduled and told the judge that I wished to be tried or released. My attorney, withdrew from the case and a new attorney was appointed. The new attorney, continued my house arrest pending his review of my case. He said that would require 6 mos. However he only met with me twice. He said that he felt I should make an Alford plea. That's when you make no plea at all. I refused to plead guilty to anything. I had't done anything illegal or immoral. In return, I would receive no active sentence. I was told that otherwise, I would probably be found guilty as charged and sentenced to 15-20 years, in prison. I am 68 years old. That's a life sentence. My attorney never got the medical records from the District Attorney “who claimed that she lost them”???. My seized property was not released to me or my son in spite of several calls requesting it. Seeing no acceptable alternatives, I reluctantly agreed.
I feel that this case is a travesty of justice. I feel that I was railroaded. Assumed guilty and jailed without sufficient cause. The newspaper had a feeding frenzy. Today, I believe that I am an innocent man who is the victim of the district attorney and the legal system. In the closing days of my career, I was trying to be of service to my community and fellow man. I worked in the drug clinic for only 5 months. My office charge was less than half that of other providers. I tried on every visit to reduce the amount of pain medication given. Accepting cash only was intended to reduce the bad checks etc. and continue the lower charge. We required a photo ID from patients. We required documentation from all new patients.
G. David Dyer, MD
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