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NKY doctor accused in federal opioid case gains back prescribing powers, sparking statewide change

Families say injunction means they can get relief
Interventional Pain Specialists Dr. Kendall Hansen workplace
Posted at 7:26 PM, Jan 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 10:45:50-05

CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. — A Northern Kentucky Doctor indicted in a federal opioid case has sparked statewide change.

Wednesday, Dr. Kendall Hansen was permitted to begin prescribing controlled substances at his Crestview Hills clinic after taking on the state medical board in court. The district court judge told the board it is time to change their restriction policy in these types of cases. To read the judge's order, click here.

Families from across Northern Kentucky said this means they can get some relief.

“We were really shocked that no one was going to take care of him,” Darlene Dunaway said.

Dunaway's husband, Rodney, has been left in limbo since November, when the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure suspended Hansen’s ability to prescribe controlled substances. The Dunaway family said Rodney suffers from chronic pain, Parkinson’s and seizures.

“I may get up 15 times a day to walk around on my walker just to stop the pain, you know, so I can move around,” Rodney Dunaway said.

His wife has been trying to find ways to wean him off his medication since Hansen stopped prescribing.

“You can have a seizure just from coming off of the pain meds suddenly,” Darlene Dunaway said. “You can’t just let a 75-year-old guy with these big medical conditions go cold turkey — he might not survive that.”

Hansen is a doctor at Interventional Pain Specialists, a large medical practice that treats around 3,000 patients. Federal agents have been investigating the practice for years, but they have not filed any complaints concerning patient care.

However, federal prosecutors brought two complaints to a grand jury in November. One listed Hansen as a defendant, the other listed his coworker Dr. Michael Fletcher as a defendant. In the indictment, agents accuse Hansen of getting other doctors to prescribe him controlled substances. Agents also said Hansen would prescribe medications to his employees and instruct them to bring the pills back to him.

Evidence suggests the prescriptions involve tramadol and phentermine. It appears the phentermine prescription was written in 2018 and the tramadol prescription was written in 2016.

RELATED | 3,000 patients could be forced to find new care due to federal opioid accusations

Once the grand jury indicted the doctor, the medical board suspended his license. His attorneys asked for a hearing to explain the number of patients relying on Hansen, but the board denied it. The board told attorneys policy requires them to restrict any doctor indicted.

Monday, District 7 Judge Audra Eckerle decided the medical board should hold hearings to dig deeper after indictments.

“The court is very clearly saying you must assess whether or not he is safe to practice,” said Ron Chapman, Hansen's attorney.

Chapman said the decision changes how the medical board handles all cases going forward.

“I think that’s the really important aspect of this case,” Chapman said. “The law that was challenged was interpreted by the Kentucky medical board as saying once a physician is indicted by the federal government, it’s game over, right? And what the court said was that indictment alone is not sufficient. You need to look at all the factors surrounding the practice of medicine here, and that ruling will now apply to all cases that go before the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure.”

Chapman said the medical board will now set a date for a hearing to determine if Hansen can continue prescribing while his case is pending. For now, the judge issued an injunction allowing him to prescribe until that hearing is over.

The Dunaways still worry about what’s to come. They said other doctors in the area are unwilling to take on Hansen’s patients.

“You assume somebody’s going to step in and take over that medication, and we found out that wasn’t true," Darlene Dunaway said. "That was a huge blow."

WCPO 9 News has reached out to the medical board for comment.

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