Suspended Las Cruces doctor testifies before medical board
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Neurologist Dr. Pawankumar Jain, accused of over-prescribing pain medication and linked to 17 drug toxicity deaths, testified before the New Mexico Medical Board in a hearing in Las Cruces Monday.
The board suspended Jain's license early July.
During the hear the state presented data on the high number of prescriptions Jain wrote between 2010 and 2011.
Executive Director of the state's Prescription Monitoring Program Larry Loring testified about the high number of doses Jain prescribed to his more than 3,200 patients.
The Prescription Monitoring Program keeps track of what medication is being dispensed by pharmacies and prescribed by doctors.
The data showed Jain topped the program's list with more than 3 million prescriptions.
The Las Cruces neurologist wrote more than 22,000 prescriptions of controlled pain medication in a year, according to records presented at the hearing.
That averages to about 62 prescriptions daily if the doctor worked 365 days a year.
At that rate he would be writing 5 prescriptions an hour.
Jain said that was standard of his practice.
"One prescription a month, one script per medication," Jain had said previously of how he prescribed medication.
Jain admitted to seeing lots of patients from all over the state and El Paso because he was the only one prescribing pain medication.
Jain testified he would not see any new patients without a referral from another doctor.
He said he would screen his patients with the a urinalysis and only prescribe to those he felt were good candidates.
"I don't recall anybody having addiction," Jain said. "Secondly, these patients deny having any addiction."
Lead Prosecutor Dan Rubin then asked if maybe there was a reason why other doctors were not prescribing these patients pain medication.
Jain said he did not believe people were coming to him for the wrong reasons.
Evidence presented during the hearing showed three of Jain's patients died within a months time from accidental overdoses while under his supervision.
Some patients died just days after receiving their last prescription, according to the records.
A patient of Jain's died from morphine intoxication according to autopsy records.
Jain said he did prescribed the patient morphine but he doesn't believe that directly led to his death.
"Four days before he was dead he went to Sierra Medical Hospital for severe pain," Jain said.
Records showed the man was treated with morphine at the hospital.
During cross-examination as a part of Jain's defense, the records indicated the man was also prescribed morphine at the hospital.
The state listed several cases where the patient died from drug overdoses and with medication in their system matching what Jain had prescribed.
On one of the cases Jain said the patient had been complying with methadone and he refilled his prescription.
An autopsy showed the patient overdosed with a large amount of methadone in his system.
"He took the whole bottle, it looks like," Jain said.
Jain testified for about six hours including cross-examination as a part of his defense.
The hearing resumes Tuesday at 8am where expert witnesses are expected to testify.