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Doctors Behaving Badly: Indiana doc plays the victim when finally caught overdosing patients

Doctors Behaving Badly: Indiana doc plays the victim when finally caught overdosing patients

Picture of William Heisel

Dr. Phillip D. Foley of Middletown, Ind., might have a second career as an inspector for the Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

This incredible human being was able to write an average of one prescription per minute without hurting his wrist.

Nearly all of the prescriptions were for dangerous and addictive narcotics, according to the Indiana Medical Licensing Board. He regularly saw more than 100 patients in a day, the board said.

With that many patients, is it any surprise that when some of them started overdosing on the drugs Foley prescribed, Foley didn't seem to notice?

According to the Indiana Medical Licensing Board, Foley saw a patient the board calls "E.D." 14 times between May 1998 and December 1998, prescribing hydrocodone every time and never stopping to give E.D. a physical exam.

When E.D. started to show signs of depression, Foley ignored them and continued prescribing the painkillers.

In October 2001, E.D. overdosed. Foley knew this, the board says, but when E.D. showed up at Foley's office, Foley wrote more prescriptions. The same thing happened after overdoses in August 2003, January 2004 and April 2004.

Finally, in June 2004, E.D. succumbed to addiction, dying of an overdose.

Eight other patients of Foley's also died from overdosing on drugs he prescribed. Still, he kept on writing prescriptions.

When the trail of bodies finally led the Indiana Medical Licensing Board to Foley's door, the doctor was indignant. He told Dave Stafford at the Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Ind.:

"All I can say is (authorities have) been harassing me the last 40 years, 30 years. They've come into my office on numerous occasions and didn't find anything and now they've come in and picked up some people's charts who had died. This can't be explained in five minutes or 10 minutes or an hour. It's a long story."

Too long, really.

If Foley was writing more than 500 prescriptions for painkillers and other narcotics every week, why didn't the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency do something to stop him sooner? Most of those nine patients died in 2004 and 2005. Why would it take the medical board four years before it was able to take action against Foley's license?

In October 2009, the board suspended Foley's license and renewed the suspension in December and again in April 2010. The board has yet to hold a final hearing in the case.

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