“DEA Decisions: In the Matter of Joe W. Morgan, D.O.”
DEA Chronicles 12/10/13 By Jennifer J. Hennessy
In the Matter of Joe W. Morgan, D.O. (October 8, 2013) On April 9, 2012, the DEA issued an Order to Show Cause proposing the revocation of Joe W. Morgan, D.O.’s DEA registration based on his alleged prescribing of controlled substances in “dangerous and excessive,” and potentially lethal, quantities. Dr. Morgan was a DEA-registered physician practicing in Florida until in April 2009, when he relocated to Tennessee and transferred his DEA registration to his new location. Moving, however, did not stop Dr. Morgan from continuing to prescribe controlled substances to his Florida patients – he would simply write the prescriptions from Tennessee and send them via Fed-Ex to his Florida clinic (where he was no longer registered) for the patient to pick-up. On March 14, 2011, the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine found that Dr. Morgan’s prescribing of controlled substances constituted malpractice because he failed to perform minimally adequate examinations and failed to maintain medical records justifying his frequent prescribing of large quantities of controlled substances. As a result, the board placed Dr. Morgan’s license on probation for four years with certain restrictions, issued a fine of $18,500, and required that he complete a drug course and records course. Further, the board banned Dr. Morgan from owning, operating, or working in a pain management clinic, from practicing any specialty other than ophthalmology, and from prescribing Schedule II or III controlled substances. On August 15, 2012, the Tennessee Board of Osteopathic Examination followed suit and suspended Dr. Morgan’s medical license based on his prescribing “a total of about 26,070 tablets of controlled substances to seven patients over the course of three to four months,” self-prescribing controlled substances, and the Florida action taken against his Florida license. Per the Tennessee board, these acts constituted unprofessional, dishonorable or unethical conduct in violation of Tennessee law. After an administrative hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) recommended the revocation of Dr. Morgan’s DEA registration. The recommendation was based not only on Dr. Morgan’s lack of licensure in Tennessee, the state in which he was registered with DEA, but also on the ALJ’s conclusion that Dr. Morgan’s continued registration was inconsistent with the public interest. Dr. Morgan’s Tennessee medical license was reinstated before DEA issued its final order. Even so, on October 8, 2013, the Administrator issued a final order revoking Dr. Morgan’s DEA registration. In short, the Administrator agreed with the ALJ’s conclusions that Dr. Morgan’s continued registration was inconsistent with the public interest, and that he issued prescriptions for controlled substances outside the usual course of his professional practice and for other than legitimate medical purposes. The Administrator also found that Dr. Morgan violated federal law by failing to obtain a separate DEA registration for each of his places of professional practice (both the Tennessee and Florida clinics). All this, coupled with the finding that Dr. Morgan failed to accept responsibility for his past misdeeds, led the Administrator to conclude that revocation was appropriate.