29Jan2017 The “Candy Man”

Perhaps you heard that the doctor who stood accused of overprescribing pain medications to such a degree that he was dubbed the “Candy Man” surrendered his license. In doing so he avoids punishment, both legal and financial.

If you don’t know the story of Dr. David Houlihan, a psychiatrist at the Tomah VA Medical Center, I will summarize it here…

Houlihan joined the VA in 2002 and went on to become chief of staff. Allegations, first made public in January 2015, reported that some patients had called the Tomah VA “Candy Land” and Houlihan “Candy Man” because it was so easy to obtain narcotics. Houlihan’s overprescribing led to at least one patient death, there are undoubtedly more. There was an investigation. Houlihan was placed on leave in January 2015 while the VA investigated the allegations and was fired on Nov. 9, 2015. In March of 2016, when investigators learned Houlihan had opened a private psychiatry practice in La Crosse Wisconsin, his medical license was suspended due to overprescribing of narcotic painkillers. The next month his license was restored because “the Division has not met its burden of establishing that the emergency suspension of Respondent’s license should continue while the case on the merits of the Division’s allegations is pending.” He was allowed to continue to practice medicine while his case was reviewed by the VA and the licensing board. Now, finally, he has lost his license for good. In an agreement, Houlihan voluntarily surrendered his medical license and avoids prosecution. He will never practice medicine in Wisconsin again. He must close is practice in La Crosse within 30 days. For more details on his case please see the references below.

I am so glad to know that this doctor will no longer practice medicine in this state (I hope other states don’t fall prey to him). But I know there are many more like him. And they are not only doctors – nurse practitioners, physician assistants, anyone with a license to prescribe these medications can abuse this privilege. They contribute to our problem of addiction, a sizable percentage of it. I am not blaming all prescribing professionals for the addiction epidemic that has Wisconsin in its grip. The majority are caring professionals do a wonderful job, but there are those that overprescribe. That overprescribing leads many patients into addiction and all that goes with it.

There is a report put out by the DEA that lists doctors that were found guilty of crimes, so many of them are drug related. Take a look through it, you may be surprised at the sheer volume of doctors that use their medical license to act as drug dealers. Many get jail time, some just get a slap on the wrist. It is interesting reading…

https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/crim_admin_actions/doctors_criminal_cases.pdf

For additional cases, you can look here…

https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/crim_admin_actions/

It encourages me to know that there are measures in place to find and stop these doctors. I hope doctors that are overprescribing will take note and stop.

If you know of a licensed professional is overprescribing, report them to the medical licensing board here…

http://dsps.wi.gov/Complaints-and-Inspections/Professions-Complaints/Forms-for-Complaints-Against-Professionals/

 

References:

http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/candy-man-has-medical-license-restored/article_ce7813b2-cf81-5a49-ab1a-40aa09ee93c5.html

http://www.leadertelegram.com/News/Daily-Updates/2016/07/22/Board-Ex-Tomah-VA-s-nbsp-candy-man-doctor-could-lose-medical-license.html

https://www.revealnews.org/article/the-death-of-baby-ada-mae-and-the-tragic-effects-of-addicted-veterans/

About the Author

Kristin Waite-Labott is a registered nurse and recovering addict who has firsthand experience with the challenges of addiction. She now works as the Head Nurse Coach at Veritus, a virtual treatment program for nurses with substance use and mental health disorders, and is dedicated to helping nurses overcome addiction and making a difference in the lives of others. Kristin is passionate about addressing the growing problem of addiction among healthcare professionals and encourages open discussions and action to prevent it from spreading further.

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