Paducah doctor sentenced to probation for writing pain prescriptions for himself

The Paducah neurosurgeon who wrote prescriptions for pain medicine in his patient’s name for personal use was sentenced to two years of probation in court on Monday.

Dr. Sean McDonald admitted to diverting dilaudid, which is a narcotic. Essentially, he was ordering opioids and keeping the vials for himself. McDonald will also have to continue his rehabilitation efforts, pay $4,200 in fines and $16,000 in legal fees.

His rehabilitation routine is strenuous. He’s in Alcoholics Anonymous, which provides a sponsor to keep him from falling behind. He has to call a number every morning to see if he has to do a spontaneous urine drug test. To continue practicing medicine, he has many stipulations that he must follow.

The United State Attorney agreed not to pursue restitution for the money paid out by patient’s insurance carriers, as the claims are from 2010 and it would be difficult to track.

Federal Judge Thomas B. Russell said he came to the ruling for two reasons. First, he truly believes McDonald is sorry for his actions and is has been clean from opioids since 2010. Second, the judge said he believes for the most part McDonald didn’t deprive patients of needed pain medication, but just added prescriptions for himself.

The charges also include fraudulent possession of a controlled substance. In fact, Monday we learned that when the doctor was confronted about the diverting, he had dilaudid in his socks. “It was a terrible place to be. Instead of asking for help, I self-medicated” McDonald told the court.

Laura Madison, who ran the pharmacy at Lourdes, testified. She told the court that she began her own investigation after learning patients did not receive pain medications McDonald had ordered. She later took her findings to management.

McDonald told the court he was glad he was caught. He said the opioid addiction stemmed from a back injury. He apologized many times to his profession and patients, adding that he never deprived them of pain medication.

“I abused my position. I misrepresented my profession. I’ll forever be sorry for that,” McDonald said.

12 former patients came forward with allegations against the neurosurgeon.