Nurse practitioner is accused of overprescribing and other office misconduct.
Nurse practitioner Kelly McCallum, 39, of Dyersburg, Tennessee, unlawfully prescribed controlled substances, including oxycodone and hydrocodone, at the Convenient Care Clinic (Clinic) over the course of about four years. According to court documents, McCallum prescribed “more than two million opioid pills” and “more than 900,000 benzodiazepines,” which are psychoactive drugs and depressants commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizures among other mental health conditions.
Convenient Care’s website says that it “is a great option to keep you out of the emergency room and keep your costs down for acute medical care. It is not meant to replace your chronic medical care with a primary care physician, nor is it intended to treat life-threatening emergencies.”
McCallum not only allegedly prescribed dangerous combinations of drugs, but she commonly prescribed to persons with whom she had close personal relationships, including sexual relationships. She told staff to “withdraw $8,000 from the clinic’s bank account” so she could purchase a vehicle for one of her patients that she was in a relationship with and also “instructed them to give him $500 a week.”
When she wasn’t present in the office, McCallum left pre-signed prescriptions for staff to distribute controlled substances while she was gone. Upon her return, she would complete patient charts indicating that she had seen them and submit the appointments to billing under her name. The state of Tennessee noted “six times this happened in November 2020” and “the list was non-exhaustive.”
Court documents indicate that McCallum was working while impaired, leading to her allegedly “pounding the walls until her knuckles bled.” She also allegedly “ripped a clinic door off its hinges and brought sex toys to work.” Reportedly, the conditions at the clinic had gone so bad that McCallum’s collaborating physician left the practice with a letter dated January 2021, in which she claimed McCallum “did not make the recommended changes to her controlled substance prescribing,” indicating that her partner had been warned about these things and continued engaging in these activities.
The nurse practitioner’s arrest comes six months after she was ordered to cease and desist practicing due to similar issues and had her license suspended. The Tennessee Board of Nursing found that the misconduct was “so severe that it imperatively requires emergency action in order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare.”
She faces health care fraud charges for allegedly “billing TennCare and Medicare for fraudulent office visits on days that she was away, maintaining a drug-involved premises, unlawful distribution of controlled substances, and health care fraud.” If convicted, she faces up to twenty years behind bars, according to prosecutors for the addictive drug distribution charges as well as an additional ten years for health care fraud.
The case was invested by the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO) Strike Force. According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), since its inception in October 2018, the ARPO Strike Force has charged more than 90 defendants responsible for distributing more than 105 million pills.