County police arrested a Laurel physician and one of his patients Thursday on prescription fraud charges.

Dr. Robert David Skipworth, 53, of Route 2 Porteyoverlook Drive in Ridge was charged with unlawfully prescribing painkillers for a patient and failing to keep proper medical records. The patient, Joann Merritt, 44, of Severna Park was charged with obtaining drugs by fraud.

The arrests ended a two-month investigation, said police, who would not say where the doctor works or what his medical specialty is.

Police said a doctor began prescribing large volumes of painkillers morphine, methadone and Dilaudid for a patient who didn't need them in 1994.

Last summer, the doctor began prescribing Dilaudid and cancer drugs in the patient's mother's name, police said.

The doctor never examined or treated the mother, a Florida resident, and the mother does not have cancer, according to court documents.

When police requested medical records during their investigation, the doctor went to area pharmacies, got information on the prescriptions he had written and used it to create medical records, according to court record.

Pub Date: 4/20/97

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