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State health officials suspend license of Tri-City family doctor

State health officials have summarily suspended the license of a Tri-City family doctor over allegations that he practiced beyond the scope of his hospital privileges, violated state pain management rules and prescribed excessive amounts of controlled substances.

Dr. Victor O. Brooks, who is in private practice, isn’t allowed to treat patients in the state until the matter is resolved. He has 20 days to respond and request a hearing.

Brooks couldn’t be reached for comment.

In a summary suspension order, state officials wrote that his “pattern of practicing raises questions regarding his clinical judgment as a physician and surgeon.”

They also said that his “pattern of practicing beyond the scope of his skills and abilities further demonstrates a complete disregard for the standard of care and raises serious concerns for public safety” and his “continued prescribing of excessive quantities and doses of controlled substances further creates an unreasonable and imminent risk of patient harm or death.”

Among the specific allegations:

▪  Brooks treated several high-risk obstetrics patients at Kennewick General Hospital, now called Trios Health, even though his hospital privileges prohibited him from managing or treating patients with high-risk pregnancy issues.

That included performing Caesarean sections on some women who’d had at least three previous C-sections, meaning they needed an obstetrician with specific surgical skills, documents said.

“By the fourth C-section, there is significant risk of intrapartum hysterectomy posing serious harm to the patient and the patient’s unborn child. (Brooks) does not have the requisite surgical expertise to manage hemorrhagic complications arising from a C-section,” documents said.

The cases were in 2012-13.

Brooks resigned his privileges after a hospital review showed the violation and he is not part of Trios’ staff.

▪  Brooks repeatedly admitted several patients to the hospital to treat complaints of chronic pain, prescribing intravenous Dilaudid, which is a highly addictive, short-acting opioid.

“(The patients) over-utilized the hospital by presenting and obtaining frequent admissions. (Brooks) never referred his patients to the emergency department or to a specialist to treat the complaints that gave rise to the repeated hospital admissions” and he “failed to recognize or address opioid dependency,” documents said.

Instead, he admitted the patients and administered IV pain medication, which didn’t have to be reported to the state Prescription Monitoring Program, documents said.

One patient was pregnant during many of her hospitalizations, and the baby was born dependent on opiates and in need of intensive care, documents said.

▪  Brooks violated standards of care for multiple patients in treating and prescribing medication for chronic noncancer pain, including keeping inadequate records, not obtaining consultation from a pain specialist, failing to obtain prior medical records and not adequately monitoring for potential medication abuse or diversion.

“(A review) reveals indiscriminate prescribing of hundreds of thousands of Schedule II and III opioid medications. The prescribed medication quantities strongly suggest drug diversion and demonstrate (Brooks’) deficient pain management skills and possible awareness of drug stockpiling, misuse or abuse,” documents said.

In one case, three members of a family were brought to a hospital after a traffic collision. Staff discovered Brooks had prescribed an “alarming amount of opioid medication to each family member,” including prescribing a 15-year-old girl 30 tablets of Vicodin a month. About 1  1/2 weeks before the hospital visit, the girl obtained a prescription for Tramadol HCL, a Schedule IV pain medication, documents said.

The two other family members also had prescriptions for multiple medications, documents said.

Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529, @SaraTCHerald

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