A Haddon Heights doctor was ordered to stop practicing medicine for two years after state investigators found inadequate documentation for large amounts of painkillers prescribed to five patients, the Attorney General's Office reported Monday.
Family practitioner Kevin M. Fleming, 55, with offices on Station Avenue, said Monday he stopped practicing earlier this month, but is looking for a doctor to see patients until he can return. Between 2,500 and 3,000 patients were seen at the practice.
The Board of Medical Examiners ruled that after the two-year suspension, Fleming - who has been in practice for 31 years - may resume seeing patients during a three-year probationary period. He also was ordered to pay $183,000 in fines and state costs.
"I will admit that the documentation was not there; I did not document in the chart what was being done," Fleming said Monday afternoon. "But no patient was harmed, and certainly no one died."
The high doses of medication, such as OxyContin and Percocet, were prescribed to treat patients with chronic pain, and the drugs did control their discomfort, Fleming said. There was no question the patients needed the medication, he said, and at no time did he profit from the prescriptions.
State investigators said Fleming prescribed the medication without performing examinations or assessments and alleged that he billed excessively.
Attorney General Paula T. Dow said in a news release: "The abuse of painkillers is a well-documented problem, and Dr. Fleming, by his own admission, prescribed large quantities of these drugs without even seeing one of these patients."
Fleming said that refers to an elderly patient he treated for 20 years before the man suffered a stroke and moved to Maryland. Although Fleming had not seen the patient since the move, he said the patient's daughter was a nurse who provided updates about her father, who refused to see a new doctor.
Not all of that information was documented in the patient's chart, and Fleming acknowledged he should have insisted the patient see a doctor in Maryland.
In addition, Fleming said, since the state initially brought charges in 2007, he had hired an expert to evaluate his documentation, and he has made appropriate changes to assure the charts of all patients are complete.