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Indiana attorney general moves to suspend Fort Wayne doctor's license

State claims dangerous drug mixing

Monday, December 3, 2012 - 6:40 pm

The Indiana attorney general's office filed a petition Monday to suspend a Fort Wayne physician's license for “inappropriate and dangerous prescribing practices,” according to that office.

The office filed the emergency suspension before the Medical Licensing Board on Monday against Dr. William Hedrick, founder of the Centers for Pain Relief in northern Indiana. It said the petition was filed "after concerns arose over the doctor's unusually high use of pain killer prescriptions and unsafe drug mixing practices."

According to the filing, Hedrick's prescribing habits “are not medically sound and pose substantial risk to the safety of his patients.”

A woman who took a call at Centers for Pain Relief on Monday afternoon did not identify herself and said, “We have no comment on that. And please don't call back.”

The website for Centers for Pain Relief, which includes Hedrick on its staff, lists three locations in Fort Wayne and one in New Haven, as well as ones in Bluffton, Huntington, Columbia City, Auburn, Kendallville and other northeast Indiana cities.

“Evidence reveals that Dr. Hedrick poses a clear danger to his patients and the public,” said Gabrielle Owens, deputy director of the Attorney General's Licensing Enforcement and Homeowner Protection Unit, in announcing the petition. “Numerous patients have died from multiple-drug toxicity while in his care and these types of aggressive prescription practices are dangerous. The attorney general's office has taken swift action and is confident the Medical Licensing Board will take the appropriate steps to protect patients.”

The board will consider the petition for summary suspension at its next meeting Thursday. Owens said if the suspension is granted, Hedrick could not practice medicine for 90 days while the attorney general's office drafts a formal complaint to submit to the board. In licensing cases, the board has the authority to determine what if any disciplinary action will be taken.

According to its website, the Centers for Pain Relief was founded by Hedrick in 2002, after he left “a large orthopedic group.” It also said Hedrick "had realized in that setting, many back, neck, and pain conditions were misdiagnosed and either treated with one modality when more was needed or too quickly was considered a surgical case."

The website's biographical sketch on Hedrick said he performed his residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. It said he has served as medical director for Forest Park Hospital in St. Louis and a executive medical director for Northwestern University Medical Center and Loyola University Hospitals prior to moving to Fort Wayne in 2000. He now currently serves as medical director for InQuest Health, the practice's website said.

Lutheran Health Network officials confirmed that he worked there from 2000-2009, when he served as co-medical director of the network's Rehabilitation Hospital, 7970 W. Jefferson Blvd.

Since January, the attorney general's office said, it has filed numerous licensing actions against physicians for overprescribing with several cases involving deaths. The growing number of overprescribing incidents has resulted in the creation of the Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force recently launched by Attorney General Greg Zoeller.