The Board also found that Thomas failed to act when urine tests revealed that his patients were taking illegal narcotics, such as cocaine and heroin. The urine tests also showed no presence of the pain killers that Thomas had prescribed, a warning sign that patients were not taking the pain killers, but instead may have been providing the pills to others.
In reviewing six patient records presented by the State, the Board found that Thomas did not document appropriate physical examinations of the patients; did not document patient medical histories; did not create treatment plans; and did not perform or order diagnostic testing. The State maintained that Thomas’ conduct constituted gross negligence that “endangered the life, health, welfare or safety” of his patients.
“Prescription drug abuse, particularly abuse involving pain killers, is a national problem, one that Dr. Thomas abetted through his negligent practice of medicine,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “The flood of prescription pain killers in our communities starts with indiscriminate prescribing by physicians violating their duty to ‘do no harm.’”
“Patient safety is the cornerstone of the physician-patient relationship, and we allege Dr. Thomas did not put the safety of his patients first,” said Steve Lee, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. “Faced with the serious allegations against Dr. Thomas, the Board acted appropriately to make certain that patients are not put in harm’s way.”
Thomas, who has his office in North Arlington, prescribed painkillers for his patients without adequate medical justification, including Oxycodone, OxyContin, and others.
The Board also found that Thomas failed to appropriately respond when he discovered some patients had high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, and other medical conditions.
The interim license suspension is indefinite, pending the outcome of the plenary hearing on the State’s Verified Complaint.
Investigators with the Enforcement Bureau within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation of this matter, in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and the North Arlington Police Department.
Deputy Attorney General Jillian Sauchelli represented the State before the Board.
The Office of the Attorney General and the Division of Consumer Affairs have launched a comprehensive strategy to fight the diversion and abuse of prescription pain killers. This effort includes:
The expansion of the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (NJPMP), to include direct data-sharing with the prescription monitoring programs maintained by the States of Connecticut and Delaware, and efforts to build a similar data-sharing partnership with New York State. As of November 5, 2015, 91% of the state`s 29,400 licensed doctors have registered to use the NJPMP database. About 194,000 user requests were submitted to the NJPMP during the preceding 30-day period. This statewide database tracks the prescription sale of all drugs, including prescription pain killers, classified as Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) or Human Growth Hormone in New Jersey.
Launching the first-in-the-nation online app that allows authorized users of the NJPMP access to the database via Apple and Android smartphones and handheld devices. The app is located at https://appsto.re/us/oUv23.i.