Michigan physician convicted for patient overdose, 21 counts of unlawful drug distribution

Former St. Clair, Mich.-based physician Bernard Shelton, MD, was convicted for 21 counts of unlawful prescription drug distribution and a patient's overdose death, the Justice Department said March 31. 

Between April 2013 and December 2016, Dr. Shelton prescribed more than 5.5 million doses of controlled substances, including 2.7 million doses of Schedule II controlled substances. 

When an undercover patient made a visit to Dr. Shelton, he did not examine the patient and instead asked, "What can I give you today?" He then gave the undercover patient the requested narcotics, according to the report. He also received more than $1.4 million from Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan during this period. 

He began prescribing opioid pain relievers in 2010 to a patient and prescribed increasingly stronger substances over the next six years. The patient became addicted to the drugs, according to the report. 

In January 2016, Dr. Shelton unlawfully prescribed an increased dosage to the patient. The patient suffered an overdose two days later, received Narcan and survived. The patient then suffered another overdose four days later and died. 

Dr. Shelton will be sentenced in July to a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison with a maximum sentence of life. 

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