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Wednesday, May 4,2011

Serious allegations

A Lansing doctor who is in a controversy in Meridian Township faces allegations by the state that she overprescribes pharmaceuticals

by Andy Balaskovitz

The State Attorney General’s Office has
filed a complaint against a Lansing doctor for allegedly overprescribing
pharmaceuticals that in one case involves a patient who died from a
drug overdose.


Shannon Wiggins, an osteopathic doctor,
faces eight counts of “negligence,” “incompetence” and “selling,
prescribing, giving away or administering drugs for other than lawful
diagnostic or therapeutic purposes,” documents obtained by City Pulse
through a Freedom of Information request show.


Wiggins is the same doctor whose efforts to open an office in Meridian Township has been met with opposition.


The 18-page “administrative complaint”
filed on behalf of the Department of Community Health alleges misconduct
dating back to February 2006. These allegations — if found to be true —
would violate the Public Health Code, the complaint says. Any potential
disciplinary action would be up to the state Board of Osteopathic
Medicine and Surgery.


Details of three other complaints were unavailable because they are under investigation. 


Wiggins declined to comment for this story.


Wiggins has two offices in Lansing, at
2310 E. Michigan Ave. and 4415 N. Grand River Ave., and seeks to open a
third at 4133 Okemos Road in Meridian Township. Her efforts there have
met opposition because her practice includes medical marijuana
certification exams.


The attorney general’s complaint is dated Feb. 28.


The first and most serious count says
Wiggins treated a 45-year-old woman, identified in the complaint only as
M.T. in order to protect her identifty, for chronic back and ankle pain
between April 27 and Oct. 19, 2007, with Xanax, Vicodin, Percocet,
Fentanyl and Valium. The patient was involved in motor vehicle accidents
in 1979 and 1982, the complaint says. 


However, an orthopedic surgeon wrote to
Wiggins a month after Wiggins started treating the patient that said
“pain behavior is way out of proportion to her time from injury,” the
complaint says. On Oct. 19, 2007, the patient was found dead from what
former Ingham County Deputy Medical Examiner Dennis Jurczak identified
as “an accidental fatal mixed drug intoxication of fentanyl, alprazolam,
carisoprodal, hydrocodone and acetaminophen,” according to the
complaint.


The complaint alleges Wiggins did not
adequately monitor for “drug dependency or diversion, implement a pain
management program, nor did she verify the efficacy of the long-term use
of controlled substances.”


Wiggins faces seven other counts of
negligence, incompetence and administering drugs for unlawful purposes
as part of the complaint:


Count II says Wiggins’ exams and clinical
findings for a 28-year-old woman patient she saw for three years
beginning in 2006 “do not justify … long-term prescribing of controlled
substances.”


Count III says Wiggins “did not properly
monitor” a 41-year-old man’s “use of controlled substances for drug
dependency” for about two-and-a-half years beginning in 2007. A database
available to doctors showed the patient “had multiple prescribers of
controlled substances.”


Count IV says Wiggins prescribed “60
tablets of Halcion, 120 tablets of Clonazepam, 30 tablets of Fluoxetine,
120 tablets of Hydrocodone, and 120 tablets of Soma” for a 29-year-old
male car accident victim she treated for two years beginning in 2008 but
“did not perform a thorough physical examination.”


Count V says that “the physical exams and
clinical findings documented in” a 54-year-old patient’s “record do not
justify” (Wiggins’) “long-term prescribing of controlled substances.”
Wiggins treated the patient for two years starting in May 2008.


Count VI says that “documentation does
not justify the long-term prescribing of controlled substances to” a
55-year-old woman Wiggins treated for four years until 2010, “nor does
it show that she took proper precaution against the abuse and diversion
of the controlled substances she was prescribing.”


Count VII says “charts from 43 separate dates” for four years beginning in 2006  show that “documentation does not justify the long-term prescribing of controlled substances to a 36-year-old woman.


Count VIII says that for seven years
beginning in 2002 Wiggins wrote prescriptions for a 27-year-old woman
“on 77 separate occasions without documenting justification for the
long-term prescribing of controlled substances.”


All the counts allege Wiggins’ documentation of treatment did not justify the long-term prescribing of controlled substances.


In response to these allegations,
Wiggins’ Lansing-based attorney Sal Gani wrote to the state medical
review board last month that the charges of negligence, incompetence and
selling, prescribing, giving away or administering drugs for other than
lawful purposes are untrue. Gani did not return a call for comment.


The response reads, in part: Wiggins “can
provide substantial documentation that she rejects, cancels and
terminates treatment of many patients that appear to request drugs
without having the medical need. She has denied treatment of patients
that demand drugs and have no symptoms to substantiate the medical
need.”


In the Meridian Township dispute, the
Board of Trustees voted 4-2 on March 1 to grant a rezoning permit to
Wiggins for her office there. Attorneys Stephen Schultz and William
Fahey, partners in a nearby firm, are seeking to place the rezoning
decision on the ballot. They said they fear that Wiggins will turn her
office into a medical marijuana dispensary.


 “The
principal concern is that the facility she is proposing is across the
street from one of the middle schools in the township,” Schultz said.


However, Wiggins has told the board that
it will only be used as a “general medicine family practice in a
proposed medical office building” and will not be a dispensary, November
board meeting minutes show.


To read the full complaint filed by the state attorney general’s office on behalf of the Michigan Department of Community Health click here.

To download Wiggins’ attorney’s response to the allegations click here



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