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Port Clinton physician indicted for allegedly improperly prescribing thousands of doses of painkillers

Officials say the substances he was prescribing were outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
Credit: AP

PORT CLINTON, Ohio — A Port Clinton physician was indicted for allegedly prescribing thousands of doses of powerful painkillers such as fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and other drugs, without regard to medical necessity, as well as healthcare fraud.

William Bauer, 82, was indicted on 200 counts of distribution of controlled substances and 14 counts of healthcare fraud.

According to the indictment, Bauer repeatedly prescribed controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.

This included, among other actions, according to the indictment:

  • performing inadequate examinations and gathering inadequate medical histories
  • failing to establish an objective pain diagnosis
  • failing to consider non-opioid treatment options
  • prescribing high doses of opioids to patients without regard to any improvement in pain level, function or quality of life
  • failing to consider a patient’s state of addiction
  • ignoring signs and warnings that patient family members were stealing substances prescribed to the patients
  • ignored warning letters about improper prescribing
  • patients running out of pills from overuse and frequently requesting early refills

The indictment says Bauer improperly distributed the medication to seven patients about 200 times between 2015 and 2018.

“This physician is accused of recklessly prescribing thousands of doses of fentanyl and other painkillers to people for no legitimate medical purpose,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “We will pursue doctors who flood our streets with pills and patches just as aggressively as we do the cartels and drug traffickers who seek to profit from the drug epidemic here in Ohio.”

In addition to overprescribing opioids and other controlled substances to patients, Bauer also allegedly regularly administered epidural injections and trigger point injections involving large cumulative doses of methylprednisolone without medical necessity.

These injections failed to meet procedural requirements because he did not use an adequate level of imaging to monitor the placement of needles in the spine. By failing to use appropriate imaging, Bauer could not determine if the injection was properly administered and thus reimbursable by insurance. The imaging he did use did document improper needle placement, rendering the injections ineffective for its stated purpose and, therefore, fraudulently billed to insurers, according to the indictment.

“Physicians take an oath to do no harm, but Dr. Bauer pursued greed over his oath,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith. “The FBI will continue efforts to root out physicians that are contributing to the daily addiction epidemic we face and hold them accountable.”