A former Hanford occupational medicine doctor has agreed to be monitored by the Washington State Department of Health for 30 months after prescribing painkillers to a dancer he met at an adult club.
Dr. Steven Angerbauer, 61, also agreed to pay a $1,500 fine and complete courses in ethics, boundaries, recordkeeping and opioid prescribing.
In June or July 2011, he met a 28-year-old woman at Night Moves Gentlemen's Club in Umatilla, according to Department of Health Medical Quality Assurance Commission documents. She told him she needed help for chronic low back pain but had no money or insurance.
In August, he met her at a Denny's restaurant and examined her in the parking lot, before prescribing hydrocodone. The woman had asked for Percocet, but Angerbauer told her he could not prescribe that because it would require him to sign a prescription, according to the agreement reached by Angerbauer and the commission.
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Later, Angerbauer met and treated her at his home, near a tattoo shop where she also worked and at a gas station.
He would prescribe hydrocodone by calling in prescriptions to a Walgreens pharmacy, always leaving a voice mail message rather than speaking to a pharmacist. The woman paid cash.
He began by prescribing 35 to 60 tablets a month, but after four months, was prescribing 80 to 120 tablets a month, according to commission documents.
He continued the prescriptions for 18 months, with two breaks, including one when the woman was in jail. He stopped treating her in February 2013 when he learned that a complaint had been made to the state.
Angerbauer failed to order imaging or other diagnostic tests to determine the cause of pain and failed to do drug testing, have the patient sign a pain-management agreement or take other steps to prevent diversion of the hydrocodone, the commission said.
He also was accused of violating appropriate physician-patient boundaries by giving her $20, paying for her to spend one night in a hotel, offering to pay for her books so she could study for a high school equivalency test and giving her food from his home when he moved out of state.
Early in her treatment, the doctor asked her for a private dance, the state alleged, but the allegation was not included in the final agreement signed by the doctor and the state. The final agreement also did not include allegations that he had prescribed medication for other patients outside his job at Hanford without keeping adequate medical records.
Angerbauer worked for AdvanceMed Hanford starting in the summer of 2011 and the accusations were not related to his work at Hanford.
When HPM Corp. took over the Hanford occupational medicine contract in October 2012, it performed a background check and reviewed his medical credentials, as it did with all medical providers. There was no indication of any of the type of activity he was later accused of, HPMC said in a statement.
Angerbauer was employed by HPMC until he took another job in about April 2013 and left. HPMC did not receive any notification that he was under investigation while he was employed at Hanford, the HPMC statement said.
At HMPC, all medical providers are supervised by a clinic director physician and site occupational medical director and undergo routine clinical review in a process that includes medical record documentation, appropriateness of care and adherence to medical protocols, HPMC said.
Angerbauer has allowed his Washington medical license to expire since leaving HPMC.
-- Annette Cary: 509-582-1533; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @HanfordNews