Florida physician’s medical license is revoked after he overprescribed pain meds and asked for a personal loan.
Dr. Thomas Velleff, 71, a Florida physician who practiced throughout the state, has had his medical license taken away after the Department of Health found he was operating a “pill mill” for at least seven of his patients. The Florida Department of Health received multiple complaints about the doctor’s prescribing practices, including one that indicated Velleff asked “a patient for whom he’d been prescribing high doses of oxycodone for a $35,000 loan.” The 65-year-old handed over a cashier’s check because he felt he needed to comply in order to continue receiving his meds.
Velleff received his license to practice in Florida in 1983 and, according to public records, had previously been fined $10,000 for abandoning his Orange City office in 2002. He apparently left without communicating his impending absence with his patients and they were unable to transfer their medical records. The following year, in May 2003, a Department of Health investigator discovered “an office completely vacant and overgrown with weeds.”
Years passed before another complaint was filed against the doctor in 2013 regarding his conduct in the three-year span between 2008 through 2011. Velleff had been practicing at three Nu-Me! pain management clinic locations, which he owned and operated with Jason Thomas Velleff. The Department of Health reviewed a handful of his patients’ medical records, which showed Velleff, “treated these patients for chronic pain and prescribed controlled substances to them inappropriately or in excessive or inappropriate quantities or combinations,” according to their report. The medications being prescribed included Xanax, Valium, Clonezepam, OxyContin, Roxicodone, Dilaudid, Dalmane and Restoril. He commonly prescribed these potentially addictive drugs without performing exams or properly diagnosing and following up with patients. He never asked about addiction history.
In a follow-up complaint filed in 2015, a patient only identified as “M.F.,” an obese smoker, had been telling Velleff repeatedly her “drugs were stolen” or she “ran out of medication early.” At the same time, her drug screens were coming back “inconsistent with (her) prescribed medications.” This meant the patient was taking medications that had not been prescribed by Velleff.
At one point, “M.F.” tested positive for Xanax, norbuprenorphine, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, noroxycodone, buprenorphine and THC, the test results showed. It was evident M.F. was selling or trading drugs rather than consuming them. Yet, Velleff prescribed 180 Dilaudid tablets, 60 Valium tablets, 60 ibuprofen tablets and 30 tablets of phentermine from 2009 through 2013. The Department of Health said Velleff didn’t have “adequate justification” for how much he prescribed nor did he “maintain adequate documentation for having adequate justification” for the amount of controlled substances he prescribed M.F.
From July 2014 through April 2016, a third complaint mentions “S.C.,” who saw Velleff after having trouble sleeping and experiencing chronic pain in his extremities. S.C. was also overweight and a smoker with a substance abuse history. Velleff begin prescribing 30 mg of oxycodone four times a day, which was eventually upped to six times daily. After that, the doctor added a 10 mg Valium prescription and asked the patient for the loan in December 2014.
The Department of Health referred to this as “an excessive amount of oxycodone” and noted “Velleff’s (records) provided no reason for the increase.” Standards of care also prohibit combining Valium and oxycodone, and the complaint states, “prevailing standard of medical care should have discouraged Dr. Velleff from prescribing oxycodone in combination with Valium.”
At the final Florida Board of Medicine hearing regarding the state of Velleff’s license, the physician “was not present and was not represented by an attorney. “The facts are not in dispute,” according to hearing documents at which it was determined his outright disregard for the safety of his patients was just cause to revoke his license.