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Ex-Port Clinton doctor found guilty of over-prescribing pain medication

A federal indictment from 2019 listed 270 charges against him for over-prescribing thousands of doses of powerful painkillers without medical necessity.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

PORT CLINTON, Ohio — A jury found former doctor William Bauer of Port Clinton guilty of over-prescribing thousands of doses of powerful painkillers such as fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and other drugs, without regard to medical necessity. 

The decision was reached Wednesday after about eight hours of deliberation in U.S. District Court, Judge Jack Zouhary presiding. 

A federal indictment from 2019 listed 270 charges against him, including multiple counts of distribution of a controlled substance and healthcare fraud.

Bauer, 84, was found guilty on counts 1-101 and was released on bond pending sentencing. A date for sentencing was not yet reached. 

Evidence presented at trial established that between 2015 and 2019, Bauer, at his practice in Bellevue, Ohio, repeatedly prescribed controlled substances including Oxycodone, Fentanyl,  Morphine, and Tramadol, outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.  The indictment focused on Bauer’s treatment of 14 patients.  

Evidence showed that Bauer prescribed high doses of opioids and other controlled substances to patients without regard to any improvement in pain level, function, or quality of life; prescribed dangerous drug combinations; failed to consider a patient’s state of addiction and ignored warning signs of abuse and diversion such as patient family members stealing medications, patients frequently requesting early refills, patients losing medications and other actions.

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

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.

Because these injections failed to meet the procedural requirements, they were rendered ineffective and were fraudulently billed to insurers.  Evidence at trial also showed that between January 2007 and August 16, 2019, Bauer prescribed controlled substances outside the usual course of medical practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose, thus resulting in insurers paying for medically unnecessary controlled substances.

Last month, a motion to dismiss 161 charges against Bauer was filed in federal court.