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Last updated: September 01. 2014 3:46PM - 5108 Views
By Kevin Halpern rhalpern@civitasmedia.com



Dr. Ramsey
Dr. Ramsey
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An emergency room doctor at Harlan ARH Hospital has had his license suspended by the state.


The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure suspended Dr. Donald Ramsey, of Knoxville, last week after an evaluation determined “he cannot practice with reasonable skill and safety at this time.”


According to the Board of Medical Licensure, an investigation of Ramsey began in February when the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) received an anonymous complaint which alleged that Ramsey “prescribes two phentermine 37.5 mg daily (twice the recommended daily dose) to hospital employees and their spouses; that individuals receiving these prescriptions are not being seen through the emergency room and may be using the medication to stay awake on the night shift; and that several of the females have small frames and do not appear to meet the BMI requirements.”


Phentermine is a weight-loss drug available by prescription and is commonly referred to as a “diet pill.”


According to the Mayo Clinic, “phentermine is an amphetamine-like prescription medication used to suppress appetite. It can help weight loss by decreasing your hunger or making you feel full longer. Phentermine may be recommended as part of an overall weight-loss plan if you’re significantly overweight — not if you want to lose just a few pounds.”


OIG reviewed an 18-page KASPER report (Feb. 1, 2013 through Feb. 11, 2014) and identified 17 patient names based upon age, dose, similar last names, working relationship to Ramsey and failure to run KASPER reports on any of the individuals. OIG referred those patient names to the Board for further review of Ramsey’s medical practices.


A KASPER report shows all scheduled prescriptions for an individual over a specified time period, the prescriber and the dispenser.


Also in February 2014, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported that Ramsey’s DEA number was registered to the Center for Family Psychiatry in Knoxville, Tenn., that he did not have a Kentucky DEA registration, and thus, he was illegally prescribing controlled substances in Kentucky.


The Board’s Medical Investigator interviewed several of Ramsey’s colleagues at ARH Hospital in Harlan and they stated substantially as follows:


• Patient A, an RN at ARH, stated that she was receiving Adipex from a weight loss center in Tennessee. She heard that Dr. Ramsey would write the prescription so she asked him to. Dr. Ramsey wrote her a total of three prescriptions, without performing any type of exam and without creating a medical chart. She stated that she is not overweight.


• Patient B, an RN BSN at ARH, stated that she heard that Dr. Ramsey would write diet pill prescriptions so she asked him to. Dr. Ramsey wrote her a total of six prescriptions, without performing any type of exam and without creating a medical chart. She stated that she is not overweight.


• Patient C, an RN at ARH, stated that she had been receiving Adipex from a weight loss center in Tennessee. She heard that Dr. Ramsey would write the prescription so she asked him to. Dr. Ramsey wrote her a total of four prescriptions, without performing any type of exam and without creating a medical chart. She stated that she had lap band surgery four years ago and was using the pills to maintain her weight.


• Patient D, a nursing services clerk at ARH, stated that it was common knowledge that Dr. Ramsey would write diet pill prescriptions throughout the hospital. She asked him to write (them) for her and he wrote her a total of four prescriptions, without performing any type of exam and without creating a medical chart. She stated that she is not overweight.


• Patient E, an RN at ARH, stated that it was common knowledge that Dr. Ramsey would write diet pill prescriptions throughout the hospital. She asked him to write (them) for her and he wrote her a total of six prescriptions, without performing any type of exam and without creating a medical chart. She stated that she is not overweight.


• Patient F, an RN at ARH, stated that it was common knowledge that Dr. Ramsey would write diet pill prescriptions throughout the hospital. She asked him to write (them) for her and he wrote her a total of six prescriptions, without performing any type of exam and without creating a medical chart. She stated that she had lap band surgery in 2010 and was taking the medication to maintain her weight. She also stated that Dr. Ramsey wrote five prescriptions for her husband, although he had never met her husband.


• Patient G, an LPN at ARH, stated that it was common knowledge Dr. Ramsey would write diet pill prescriptions throughout the hospital. She asked him to write for her and he wrote her a total of four (4) prescriptions, without performing any type of exam and without creating a medical chart. She stated that she is not overweight.


• Patient H, a nurse’s aide at ARH, stated that she heard that the licensee would write prescriptions so she asked him to write her some Ambien. The licensee wrote her a total of three (3) prescriptions for Ambien, without performing any type of exam and without creating a medical chart. She also stated that the licensee wrote two diet pill prescriptions for her daughter, although he had never met her daughter.


The Board’s Medical Investigator also interviewed Phyllis Wilson, the hospital’s risk manager, and she stated substantially as follows: “on or about March 17, 2014, Dr. Ramsey told her in a telephone conversation not to cooperate with the Board’s investigator and to not let the nurses be interviewed.”


In a typed response to the Board, Ramsey stated, “on occasion, I have prescribed Adipex for nurses at ARH Hospital at their request, I have kept some abbreviated records regarding this which you should have. In my opinion, the nurses who requested this information were legitimate candidates for this drug and did not misuse it. I have no knowledge of anyone using this drug to ‘stay awake’ on the night shift. I have prescribed double prescriptions in the past so the drug would not need to be refilled as frequently. I do not know of any instances where a refill was requested early or at a time frame that would have suggested the patient was actually taking two pills a day.


“As for my DEA license, I do have a Tennessee DEA license. I have never been made aware by anyone, including the administration of ARH Hospital, which credentialed me, that I needed to have a separate KY DEA license.”


Ramsey underwent a 96-hour inpatient evaluation at a Florida Recovery Center in Gainesville, Fla.


The Board of Medical Licensure told Ramsey he could get a second opinion or attend a treatment facility, and when he did not, the board filed an emergency order of suspension that prohibits Ramsey from practicing in Kentucky, saying that his practice “constitutes a danger to the health, welfare and safety of his patients or the general public.”


According to ARH’s website, Ramsey also practices at Middlesboro ARH and Whitesburg ARH.


A contact number for Ramsey on the ARH website is listed for Mountain Medical Enterprises, based in Harlan. Mountain Medical Enterprises’ site states it was formed in year 2003 by Dr. Amir Ahmad and that “Mountain Medical Enterprises maintains a distinguished record for emergency room physician service for Harlan ARH Hospital.”


Kevin Halpern can be reached at 606-909-4147, ext. 1165.


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