Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Kirschmeyer v. Helios Psychiatry (Cal. Ct. App. - March 15, 2023)

I'm certain that many doctors prescribe various medications to their friends and family members. I have no doubt about that. At some level, I also don't have a problem with it. It's a ton easier and cheaper to talk to your relative than it is to make an appointment, schlep to a doctor, pay the co-pay or deductible, etc. So if the doctor her was prescribing, say, antibiotics, I'd say that this dispute was a big nothingburger.

But she wasn't. First off, the doctor here -- Jennifer Dore -- was prescribing Adderall and Klonopin, which are drugs with a serious abuse potential. Second, she's a psychiatrist, not a regular old "say ah" doctor. Psychiatrists shouldn't (generally) be treating family members. You need more distance. Third, there's an underlying dispute about whether some Ketamine -- another potentially abused drug -- was perhaps diverted as well.

Given those facts, I have zero problem with the Medical Board of California issuing a subpoena to obtain the medical records of the family member to whom Dr. Dore gave these prescriptions. If there are in fact no medical records -- or insufficient medical records -- to show a valid reason to prescribe these drugs to the relevant family member, that's worth knowing. For sure.

Would I pull the medical license of any doctor who prescribed Adderall and/or Klonopin to a family member without a ton of backup medical records? Nope. Probably not. I could potentially see reasons for doing so, and even if I didn't, I might not think that it was such an egregious violation that it called for bouncing a person entirely from her chosen profession.

But issuing a subpoena to get at the underlying records? That's entirely proper. Inquiring minds totally legitimately want to know.

Which is precisely what the Court of Appeal holds here