Local doctor’s medical license restricted by DOH for over prescribing medication

A Bothell doctor's medical license has been summarily restricted by the Washington State Department of Health relating to allegations that he improperly prescribed more controlled substances than any other doctor in the state, according to a press release from the Department of Health.

A Bothell doctor’s medical license has been summarily restricted by the Washington State Department of Health relating to allegations that he improperly prescribed more controlled substances than any other doctor in the state, according to a press release from the Department of Health.

Dr. Daniel J. Riegel has been a doctor since 1989. He was reported initially in 2013 by his previous employer, EvergreenHealth, which filed a complaint with the Department of Health, according to the charging statement.

A non-criminal charging statement dated Oct. 30 names Riegel as the respondent in documents filed by the state’s Medical Quality Assurance Commission, which accuse Riegel of violating Washington state law determining how pain medications are prescribed.

Riegel is alleged to have improperly prescribed opioids for treating chronic non-cancer pain, not complying with prescription standards, prescribing high doses of narcotics based on patient’s complaints without additional objective measures or supportive findings, failing to provide close monitoring when prescribing long-acting opioids and writing prescriptions for patients suffering severe depression or suicidal thoughts without ensuring they received  mental health treatment.

Riegel has 20 business days to appeal his license’s restrictions, which prohibit him from writing prescriptions for any controlled substances. No criminal charges have been filed but the case has been referred to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

The charging statement alleges Riegel inadequately documented patients’ states of health, and in at least one case, allegedly prescribed the stimulant Adderall without an electronic record.

According to the charging statement, Riegel allowed patients to routinely refill their narcotic painkiller prescriptions early, and did not perform urinanalysis on patients, or record their results to see if they were taking the medications themselves, and at proper dosages.

In another case, documented in the charging statement, Riegel allegedly prescribed more than 6,700 mg of oxycodone, more than 11,750 mg of morphine, 84,000 mg of a muscle relaxer, 160 mg of hydromorphone and 450 mg of diazepam to a single patient over the course of 27 days for fibromyalgia and migraine relief.

Several of his patients were hospitalized due to life-threatening, narcotic-related conditions during the past few years, according to the charging statement.

Additionally, the statement alleges Riegel prescribed opioids to at least one patient who admitted to him he was using the medications to manage his depression instead of pain.

In another instance, the charging statement alleges Riegel prescribed over 210 mg of oxycodone per day to one patient who was using prescriptions from more than a dozen doctors and filling them at multiple pharmacies.

Following a 2013 investigation, the charging statement said Riegel agreed to stop prescribing high levels of pain medication, which the Medical Quality Assurance Commission alleges he did not.

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