NILES, Ohio (TCD) — A 65-year-old former physician recently pleaded guilty to illegally prescribing controlled substances, health care fraud, and engaging in sexual acts with patients for years.
From January 2015 through January 2022, Jeffrey Sutton, who worked as a doctor until 2022, “knowingly prescribed medically unnecessary controlled substances to patients outside of the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio announced.
Sutton reportedly prescribed opioid medications to patients for “extended periods,” including as long as a decade.
Sutton reportedly prescribed short-acting opioid therapy medications without “establishing treatment goals, pain diagnoses, accurate examinations, and either without any medical imaging or with medical imaging that could not justify the opioid prescribing.”
According to the Attorney’s Office, Sutton sometimes increased patients’ dosages by more than 1,000%, or more than 22 times the opioid levels that the CDC considers an overdose risk.
The Attorney’s Office said Sutton would combine the opioids with other medications like “benzodiazepines, a combination that has been known to cause serious risks of slowed or difficult breathing, coma, and death.”
Sutton reportedly failed to notice any signs that patients were abusing the prescribed drugs. He also ignored warnings about the dangers of the dosages, according to the Attorney’s Office.
Due to Sutton’s actions, health care benefit programs were reportedly fraudulently billed for the medically unnecessary controlled substances and office visits.
Additionally, Sutton confessed that he engaged in sexual acts with patients during office visits. He reportedly brought oxycodone pills to the home of a patient he was sexually involved with and did so “outside the course of treatment and without a valid prescription.”
Sutton’s sentencing is scheduled for May 23.