Dentist has His License Revoked For Overprescribing Pain Killers
Michael Tittle, a 64-year-old dentist in Erwin, Tennessee, a small town close to the North Carolina border, has lost his professional license after admitting to giving approximately 200 opioid pain killers to a number of patients in his care. Tittle had been a licensed dentist since 1978. He agreed to have his license revoked during a settlement agreement in October of this year which was publicly disclosed this month. He also agreed to pay $13,000 in civil penalties plus additional costs not to exceed $3,000.
According to the order revoking Tittle’s license, he was found “guilty of prescribing controlled substances in amounts or for durations not medically or dentally necessary and pre-signing blank prescription forms or using pre-printed or rubber-stamped prescription forms containing the dentist’s signature.” His license was already on probation for five years over “multiple infection control violations.”
According to state records, an investigation of Tittle’s clinic was launched after the Tennessee Department of Health received a complaint about prescribing controlled substances. Investigators found a total of thirteen instances in which Tittle
“failed to include a concise description and justification for the amount and frequency of prescriptions he dished out to patients.” In one case, Tittle wrote a patient 71 opioid prescriptions, averaging ten hydrocodone pills each time, over a span of only six months, according to discipline records.
Investigators also found, on several occasions, there were dozens of opioid prescriptions issued over a relatively short period of time. Tittle gave one patient 49 prescriptions of hydrocodone and 14 prescriptions for oxycodone, totaling 630 tablets, during a span from October 2016 to September 2017. He gave another patient 41 prescription slips for oxycodone, totaling 365 tablets, over a four-month span from February to May 2018, and he continued to prescribe a root canal patient pain killers for a year, including 24 prescriptions totaling 210 tablets.
In 2015, another patient was prescribed 110 tablets of opioids even though Tittle had “no documentation of the patient ever being seen in the office.” Investigators could not find a single instance in which the patient named on the prescription slip had actually been seen by the dentist.
Tittle also admitted to the board that he had a pre-signed blank prescription in his office that was copied onto security paper to generate additional pre-signed slips. This way, patients could obtain their prescriptions to potentially dangerous controlled substances without having to worry about the dentist physically signing off each time.
The Tennessee Department of Health maintains public records on licenses for doctors, nurses, chiropractors, massage therapists and other health care professionals throughout the state. According to the report listing the decision to revoke Tittle’s license, two Nashville dentists, Norman Cordice and Ronald Lubovich, also agreed to surrender their dental licenses as a result of prescription-related investigations.
In response to the national opioid crisis, many dentists and physicians have chosen to start issuing non-opioid pain killers or, at the very least, adopt stricter policies regarding opioids. State investigators and regulatory boards continue to crack down on misuse, as many state attorney generals have filed lawsuits against physicians, distributors, drug makers, and others repsonsible for the epidemic.