CLIFTON, N.J. -- A Clifton orthopedic surgeon who prescribed addictive opioid painkillers to patients who abused the drugs, sold them on the black market or otherwise didn't need them has been temporarily barred from practicing medicine.
Evangelos Megariotis told one patient that "anything that drugs can do on the street, my medications will do better and safer” and to “just call me,” state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said Thursday.
He also treated patient complaints of hyper tension, upper respiratory issues, ADD, PTS and other conditions with drugs -- among them, Xanax, Adderall, and cough syrup with codeine – without a complete history and physical exam or referrals to specialists, the attorney general said.
Megariotis, who owns Clifton Orthopedic Associates, "ran his practice for years with little or no concern for professional standards or the regulations in place to protect patients, including the restrictions on habit-forming prescription painkillers” Grewal said.
“We will not allow our battle against the deadly scourge of addiction to be undermined by rogue practitioners who think rules don’t apply to them,” the attorney general said.
Among other offenses, Grewal said, Megariotis:
Failed to conduct any routine urine or blood testing, and/or to conduct regular lookups on the NJ Prescription Monitoring Program to ensure patients’ proper use of drugs;
Failed to acknowledge clear signs of potential drug abuse and/or drug diversion in patients;
Discouraged one patient from using illegal narcotics by telling him “anything that drugs can do on the street, my medications will do better and safer” and to “just call me”;
Treated patient complaints of hyper tension, upper respiratory issues, attention deficit disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, “car phobia,” and other conditions outside his area of expertise– often with CDS like Xanax, Adderall, and cough syrup with codeine – without a complete history and physical exam, and without referrals to specialists;
Failed to conduct bloodwork or other tests on two patients to mitigate potential risks associated with long-term use of NSAIDS and Prednisone, even when one patient reported rectal bleeding and gastrointestinal problems;
Conducted surgery on one patient’s knee, and another patient’s shoulder, despite a lack of diagnostic findings to support the medical necessity for the procedures;
Prescribed addictive pain medication to patients for years without a pain management plan, as required, and continuing them on high dosages of the drugs even when patients reported no relief from pain.
The restrictions, part of an agreement reached between Megariotis and the state Board of Medical Examiners, remains in place until the Board makes any changes.
Among other measures, the order mandates that within six months Megariotis must complete a Board-approved evaluation "to assess his ability to safely and competently engage in orthopedics and prescribe" drugs, Grewal said.
"Once the evaluation is completed, either party may petition for a modification of the practice limitations," he said.
Grewal also retains the right to temporarily suspend Megariotis’ license if he violates any of its terms.
Megariotis now must await the appointment of a practice monitor "to be physically present for all his encounters with patients and to immediately report any gross deviations from the standard of care," the attorney general said.
Investigators with the Enforcement Bureau within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation.
Deputy Attorney General Michael Antenucci, of the Professional Boards Prosecution Section in the Division of Law, is representing the state in the case.
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