Tennessee doctor feels shutdown of pain clinics fuels opioid crisis

Dr. Councill Rudolph (Photo: WKRN)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – A woman was arrested for prescription fraud, but her former doctor says there is a much bigger problem– and he blames state lawmakers.

Dr. Councill Rudolph says he isn’t sure how Sonya Waters reportedly stole his prescription pad before using it to forge his name in an effort to get Percocet pills.

He told News 2 he usually takes every measure to protect his prescription paper, but he said prescription fraud is more common than people think.

“As a doctor, if you get called out of a room because someone’s fallen or having a seizure, you go take care of that patient, and you don’t always bring your script pad with you,” Rudolph explained.

(Photo: WKRN)

He was notified of the incident after the former patient, identified as Sonya Waters, allegedly dropped off two prescriptions to the Walgreens on Mercury Boulevard.

She reportedly used the names of two different people, and a pharmacist suspected it was fraud and called Dr. Rudolph.

“We, of course, have dismissed the patient for doing this,” Rudolph told News 2. “It is unfortunate in our society that people take advantage of others trying to help patients and abuse the system.”

Waters is expected to appear in court on the prescription fraud and forgery charges Feb. 22.

(Graphic: WKRN)

Murfreesboro police are seeing more and more cases of opioid abuse.

“The opioid addiction crisis affects everyone, and it’s not a new thing,” said police spokeswoman Ofc. Amy Norville. “It has gotten worse in the last several years.”

The department has a unit dedicated to working crimes like these. They also rely on pharmacists to be their eyes and ears when identifying prescription fraud.

Rudolph said besides the people who simply abuse opioids, there are others who legitimately need them.

“What you don’t understand and what the country has forgotten is that 10 to 11 percent of America is in chronic pain,” he explained.

He says that group was dealt a blow in 2015 when the state legislature passed a bill that closed 308 certified pain clinics in one day.

“That put 120,000 people on the streets with nowhere to go because the law designated that only pain specialists could treat them, and there were only 63 of them living in Tennessee at the time, and their offices were full and not taking new patients,” according to Rudolph.

State officials have called pain clinics pill mills and some doctors who operate them legalized drug dealers.

(Photo: WKRN)

In 2014, when the DEA took over controlled medicine, Rudolph’s Franklin County pain clinic was raided. Officials accused him of over prescribing pain meds.

“But was put out of business as a certified pain clinic by the state of Tennessee, which passed the law that did that in 2015,” Rudolph said.

Rudolph feels the solution is simple.

“The solution in my view is to allow the Tennessee Health Department’s old program back to reestablish the 308 certified clinics that were closed in 2015 and bring these chronic pain patients back into care and not ignore them, which has been done since 2015,” he told News 2.

Rudolph said the only winners are the insurance companies.

“Four hundred each a month, each patient getting a drug screen every month, each patient getting prescriptions for narcotics every month, you’re saving billions of dollars now every month if you were the insurance companies,” he said.

Rudolph talks about this issue in his blog. Click here to check it out.