FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Despite the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana finding a Fort Wayne pain doctor guilty on half the counts against him, Dr. William Hedrick, of the Centers for Pain Relief (also called Inquest Health Systems) had his medical license reinstated on Thursday.
Hedrick’s lawyer, Tim Pape, said, “Dr. Hedrick is very humbled by the whole experience. He greatly looks forward to the opportunity to deliver pain medicine under the best practices and standards of care and to learn all he can from the experience.”
The state’s medical licensing board reinstated Hedrick’s license on Thursday night after a day-long hearing in Indianapolis. Hedrick was also placed on probation.
Dr. Hedrick was accused of dangerous prescribing practices that led to the deaths of some patients. The Indiana Attorney’s General Office filed a complaint back in December 2012.
The medical licensing board found Hedrick guilty of three of the six outlined in the complaint – counts three, five, and six:
Count three: The board found he continued to practice although he was unfit to practice due to professional incompetence as evidenced by his overuse of steroid injections beyond what has been deemed medically acceptable.
Count five: The board also said Hedrick continued to practice although he did not keep abreast with current professional theory or practice when it came to appropriate pain management to his treatment of patients.
Count six: Lastly, the board found he failed to keep abreast of current professional theory or practice because he failed to adequately supervise his advance practice nurses and physicians’ assistants for whom he was required to collaborate with and monitor in regards to patient care and safety.
The board did not find Hedrick guilty of recklessly prescribing highly addictive pain medications for non-medical purposes, demonstrating professional incompetence through use of opioid therapy or of acting immorally with regards to serving the public.
Hedrick was placed on indefinite probation for a minimum of two years by the state’s medical licensing board. As of Thursday night, he is again able to practice medicine and prescribe controlled substances.
As part of his probation, Hedrick is required to meet several requirements set forth by the board. In two years, Hedrick will have the opportunity to go before the board and ask to be taken off probation. It is up to the board to approve or deny that request. One factor the board will take into consideration to approve the request is if he has met the terms of his probation.
Terms of probation
- Hedrick must complete the doctor reentry program in Colorado. The Attorney General’s office said it is well respected. Once Hedrick completes that program, he will be evaluated. The results will go to the Indiana Medical Licensing Board.
- Hedrick will only be able to supervise/collaborate with one advanced practice nurse or physician assistant.
- He is mandated and has to use the state’s INSPECT program. This monitors patients prescription history.
- If Hedrick chooses to perform interventional procedures, including injections, he has to follow industry standards.
- If Hedrick performs interventional procedures, he has to have an independent doctor who is approved by the Indiana Medical Licensing Board monitor him. That doctor on a monthly basis will review 15% of Hedrick’s patient charts. The Attorney General’s office said that will be a good portion of his patients.
- Hedrick will be required to pay $3,000 in civil penalties.
- The spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office, Erin Reece, said Hedrick will also have to pay for the costs associated with the state’s investigation. An attorney told Reece that could exceed $3,000.
Dr. Hedrick vs. the State
On Dec. 3, 2012, Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office petitioned to have Dr. Hedrick’s license suspended for 90 days while the state drafted a formal complaint to submit to the Medical Licensing Board.
Three days after the petition was filed, Dr. Hedrick agreed to the have his license suspended but released a statement denying allegations against him. The board also voted to have his license suspending pending the filing of a formal complaint.
The formal complaint against Hedrick was filed by the state on December 21, 2012. The complaint claims numerous patients under the care of Dr. Hedrick and the Centers for Pain Relief “have died from multiple drug toxicity.”
Dr. Hedrick was also accused of engaging in procedures that are “inconsistent with patient benefit, but consistent with financial gain for [Dr. Hedrick].”
A December 6 hearing before the board concluded with the temporary suspension of Hedrick’s license pending the outcome of the hearings with the board.
In a hearing on January 24, the board rejected Hedrick’s proposed settlement of giving up his license to practice medicine for two years and voluntarily be on probation for four subsequent years.
Police raided four locations in connection to the investigation into Hedrick and the Centers for Pain Relief on January 30. Hedrick’s attorney, Stacy Cook, said they were “providing total cooperation to the investigating parties.” Information about materials confiscated were not available.
A hearing on February 28 ended without resolution after the state called several people to speak, including another pain specialist who claimed several patients under Hedrick’s care were not good candidates for opioid therapy due to psychiatric diseases, depression, alcoholism and/or suicidal tendencies. This hearing was the start of trial proceedings in the case against Hedrick.
Hedrick had his license reinstated after a hearing on March 28.
Centers for Pain Relief
According to its web site, the Centers for Pain Relief operates out of 14 locations in northeast Indiana and was founded by Dr. Hedrick in 2002. The bio of Dr. Hedrick on the web site indicated he served as Medical Director in the Lutheran Health Network from 2000-2009 and then served as Medical Director for InQuest Health.