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Doctor Update: Maine psychiatrist caught prescribing to a patient in jail

Doctor Update: Maine psychiatrist caught prescribing to a patient in jail

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Notice to all doctors who are under scrutiny by their local medical boards: If you are going to fake a medical record so you can prescribe an addictive drug, you better have an alibi.

According to medical board records, in the case of psychiatrist Reinaldo de los Heros, his alibi was in jail, which is never a good place for an alibi to be when your license is in jeopardy.

Here’s how it went down:

First, you may remember de los Heros from previous coverage in Antidote. As I wrote in my very first post about him — back in 2010 — he has had more lives than a cat. De los Heros was licensed in the 1970s and 1980s to practice medicine in Maine, New Hampshire, and Maryland. He also picked up a license in Massachusetts, and that was where his troubles started. According to medical board records, in March 1997 he pleaded guilty and was convicted in Massachusetts of Medicaid fraud and felony larceny. According to the records, he had overbilled Medicaid for a total of $240,681.11. The medical board took away his license as a result. He then surrendered his license in New Hampshire, and, in 1999, North Carolina revoked his license.

Ultimately, he landed in Maine. Despite his criminal history and his history of discipline by medical boards, Maine granted him a conditional license in 2006 that, according to medical board records, required that he practice in a “supervised relationship under another Maine license psychiatrist.” He also had to submit to random drug and alcohol testing. In 2007, de los Heros asked that he be given a full license, and the board granted his request.

This pattern repeated itself in 2009, when the Maine board moved to suspend de los Heros license but instead entered in a consent agreement with him that, again, put him under the supervision of another Maine psychiatrist. He also was ordered to submit to a neuropsychiatric evaluation. In 2010, de los Heros asked that he be given a full license, and the board granted his request.

After the death of one of his patients in 2015, the patient’s mother, Elizabeth Marquis, complained to the Medical Board of Licensure in Maine. As the Board stated at the time, “police found 19 bottles of prescription medication, all of which had been prescribed within by Dr. de los Heros in an approximate five week timeframe.”

De los Heros fought the case against him. Ultimately, De los Heros was placed under the supervision of another physician in 2016 but, just this past March, the Board allowed him to come out from under supervision and instead to promise to select a “Maine-licensed psychiatrist with whom he will regularly meet and consult with and share clinical experiences.”

Note that this was now the third time that de los Heros has been put under supervision and then taken out from under supervision by the same state medical board. De los Heros likely would still be practicing in Maine today had it not been for a phone call from an inmate in the Cumberland County Jail.

According to medical board records, the inmate called a female patient of de los Heros while she was with the psychiatrist. “During the telephone call, Dr. de los Heros discusses issuing prescriptions both for the female and for the male, knowing that he was in jail. Dr. de los Heros acknowledges in the call that the prescription he issues for the controlled substance Adderall for the incarcerated male patient was early,” the medical board records state.

The upshot? De los Heros had not examined the inmate, and yet he agreed to write him a prescription. That’s the first no-no. The inmate had not exhausted his previous prescription for Adderall, and yet de los Heros agreed to write him a new prescription. A second no-no.

Now for the third no-no. This phone call from the inmate happened on Aug. 31, 2017. According to medical board records, de los Heros wrote down in his charts that – on that same day -- he had met with this same patient in his office. The medical board wrote:

It is of great concern that the information received reflects that Dr. de los Heros issued a prescription on August 31, 2017, for the controlled substance Adderall to a patient knowing that the patient was in jail, and then falsified the patient’s medical record by documenting that he had seen the patient on that date for a 25 minute office visit.

Why did this particular offense trigger the board to finally take decisive action against de los Heros? Who knows. Perhaps the board was embarrassed after being contacted by the state attorney general’s office about the patient in jail. Whatever the reason, the board met and suspended de los Heros’ license the same day, October 10, 2017.

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