Dr. Rakesh Mathur, the primary physician of Intractable Pain Clinic, says he will "take whatever steps" necessary to reopen his Fallston practice, according to a statement released through his lawyers this week.
Mathur's license was suspended Feb. 7 because of "improper prescribing practices," according to the deputy director for the Maryland State Board of Physicians.
The clinic, at 2112 Belair Road, closed its doors one week after the suspension, the staff calling its patients informing them to pick up their medical records.
In investigative findings detailed in a report by the Board of Physicians, a peer review of Mathur's records found he prescribed "excessive quantities" of controlled dangerous substances, as well as multiple types of narcotics and multiple long-acting controlled dangerous substances at the same time, while failing to conduct and document "adequate physical examinations."
A hearing on Mathur's summary suspension was held Feb. 22 at the Maryland State Board of Physicians, where it appears the doctor requested an evidentiary hearing.
"Dr. Mathur will remain suspended until he appears before the Board for a hearing. That's about all I can [say] at this point," Board of Physicians Deputy Director John Papavasiliou wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.
Papavasiliou added that the board's website http://www.mbp.state.md.us/ will publish any public information on the matter.
"Dr. Mathur has requested a hearing to defend his care of the over 400 patients for whom long-term pain management has been crucial in providing relief from debilitating chronic pain," Mathur's attorneys, Christina N. Billiet and John Sly, of Waranch and Brown, and Marc Cohen, of Ober/Kaler, said in Monday's statement.
"I am a board certified physician who has dedicated my practice to helping those patients for whom there has been no other effective form of care," Mathur said in the same statement. "For many patients, long-term pain management is their only option if they are to lead productive lives, reasonably free of incapacitating pain."
The statement concludes that Mathur looks forward "to explaining to the board my practice and why I should be permitted to once again serve those patients who need treatment for crippling pain," and says he will do whatever "the board thinks appropriate in order to reopen my practice so people in pain can find relief."
In Mathur's 30-year career in medicine, no action has been action taken against his license, the statement noted.
While the doctor's medical license still hangs in the balance, former patients are still speaking out in favor — and against — Mathur's practices while at the clinic.
Parkville resident Sharon Eshelman was a patient of Mathur's for 12 years and described him as a "very good, very understanding doctor."
Eshelman said she was surprised to read the Board of Physicians' report because her experience at the clinic couldn't have been more different.
Even though she doesn't have health insurance, Eshelman was able to afford treatment at the Fallston clinic, saying she received physical therapy, injections and other pain management techniques, not just medication.
"It's a sad situation all the way around for the patients and trying to find some type of care," she said. Eshelman added that she has still been unable to find another doctor who will see her and that she can afford.
As for the board's report saying Mathur would increase a patient's medication without documented reasons or without examining the patient, Eshelman has trouble believing it.
She said that Mathur was working to decrease the amount of medication she was taking and discouraged upping the dosage, saying it wasn't something to be abused.
Eshelman praised Mathur and the clinic's staff for helping her manage her pain "in order to get up and do what I have to do every day and function as a human being."
Another story is quite different.
One man, who e-mailed The Aegis, described how a woman very close to him was a patient of Mathur's and became addicted to the pain killers she was prescribed while under his care.
The e-mailer, who asked to remain anonymous as to not cause friction with the woman or disrupt her recovery, wrote that she would "come home with a [prescription] of a few hundred OxyContin, as well as fentanyl patches that he [Mathur] gave her to take at the same time."
Over the years, the reader said, he saw the woman taking more and more medication. He asked her if Mathur examined her to monitor her condition, but he said he never received a straight answer.
"I knew deep down he [Mathur] wasn't," the man wrote. "She could just call the office or swing in and walk right out with a new [prescription]."
Shortly after the clinic closed, the woman entered a rehabilitation center, he added.
"I'm so glad he got suspended and I really hope he loses his license all together," the man wrote.