Tuesday, 21 of August of 2018

Overprescribing Narcotics May Cost Norfolk, VA Doctor His License

Beyond apparently ignoring evidence that one or more his patients was a pain pill addict, additional allegations show that Dr. Disamodha Amarasinghe was potentially negligent in taking care of any number of patients.

By Rick Shapiro, Virginia Medical Malpractice Lawyer

The Virginia Board of Medicine has suspended the prescribing privileges of a primary care doctor who, evidence shows, has dangerously and irresponsibly prescribed potentially deadly narcotic painkillers.

According to the March 17, 2011 Virginian-Pilot, investigations into complaints regarding a drug-seeking patient revealed that Dr. Disamodha Amarasinghe of Norfolk, Virginia (VA), continued to prescribe opioid pain patches to the person who had “filled prescriptions for 70 narcotic patches from eight different doctors.” One of the major reasons the physician is facing permanent loss of his license to practice in Virginia is because he made no use of the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program. The web-based database records each time a doctor prescribes, a pharmacist dispenses, and a patient picks up a prescription for a controlled substance such as Vicodin or fentanyl.

The long list of other prescribing malpractice Amarasinghe faces include:

  • Distributing narcotics originally dispensed to other patients to people for whom the medications were not intended.
  • Making diagnoses without doing enough tests.
  • Prescribing painkillers without coordinating treatment with patients’ other doctors.

Beyond apparently ignoring evidence that one or more his patients was a pain pill addict, these additional allegations show that Amarasinghe was potentially negligent in taking care of any number of patients.

Powerful painkillers can be a godsend for those with conditions like late-stage cancer, but those medications are rarely needed by most patients. This is especially true in the case of fentanyl patches, which deliver a drug 100 times more powerful than morphine. Overdosing with fentanyl patches is far too easy, and far too common.

While the Pilot report does not specifically mention fentanyl, it is no stretch of the imagination that the product falls under the rubric “narcotic patches.” I’ve argued for years that fentanyl should only be prescribed to patients who have no other means of pain relief. I cringe whenever I learn that the patches might have been used irresponsibly or indiscriminately.

If a full investigation of Amarasinghe proves that he did prescribe narcotics negligently, he should permanently lose his ability to practice medicine. That result would ensure he could not be in a position to put patients’ lives at risk.

EJL

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton is a law firm whose attorneys focus on injury and accident law, and we have experience handling medical malpractice cases involving hospital and doctor mistakes, nursing home abuse and neglect. Check out our case results to see for yourself. Though not every case meets our criteria, we offer free, initial consultations. Give us a call at (800) 752-0042. If you can’t get through due to high call volume, leave a message and we will return your call promptly. Also be sure to check out our free special report Top 10 Tips From a Medical Malpractice Insider. Our primary office is in Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA), but we also have offices in Hampton, VA, and Elizabeth City, North Carolina (NC).  Our lawyers hold licenses in NC, SC, WV, KY, FL and DC. We also host an extensive injury law video library on Youtube . Furthermore, our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard and Norfolk Injuryboard as pro bono public information services.