Kauai doctor spars with authorities over patient files
Federal law enforcement agents investigating a drug case against Kauai Dr. Harold C. Spear III improperly sent the psychiatric record of one of his patients to the patient's employer, Michael Green, Spear's attorney, said in court yesterday.
"We are going to file something against the federal government because one woman in particular, they're about to fire her. She's a probation officer," Green said.
U.S. Attorney Edward Kubo said he is not aware that any medical records seized in the investigation were shown to any third party.
A federal grand jury charged Spear with 20 counts of unlawfully distributing prescription painkillers to five people. He pleaded not guilty to all counts at his arraignment in U.S. District Court yesterday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Kobayashi scheduled trial for Aug. 14.
Green said he expects the government will seek more charges against Spear.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Shipley said, "The investigation is ongoing."
During yesterday's hearing, Green asked Kobayashi to order the government to return the more than 3,000 patient records that the government seized from Spear's medical practice in March and June last year and earlier this month following his arrest.
Spear, 55, surrendered his Drug Enforcement Administration certificate to prescribe drugs when he was arrested. He said his patients cannot get treatment without their records -- even those he referred to other physicians.
"The physicians' first question is, 'Let me see the records,' " Spear said.
Shipley told Kobayashi he doesn't believe all of the 3,000 people whose records Spear maintained are patients in urgent need of care. He said some are on the mainland and may have called Spear's "dial-a-doc" service just once. And he said copying all 3,000-plus records will take time.
Kobayashi ordered Shipley to provide her a list of patients whose records he objects to returning and ordered Green to provide a list of patients who are in urgent need of care.
Spear says he knows of at least six of his patients who have gone to the emergency rooms on Kauai because they have been unable to get their pain medications.
The indictment charges Spear with distributing and dispensing methadone, oxycodone and OxyContin outside the usual course of professional medical practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.