In 2006, Anita Goodman lost her 31-year-old son Aaron to an overdose of prescription medication as a wave of similar deaths rolled through Harris, Jefferson and Orange Counties in Southeast Texas.
Aaron picked up a prescription drug habit in college and had been fighting his addiction to the narcotic hydrocodone, the anti-depressant Xanax and a muscle relaxant called Soma – the combination of which produces an effect similar to heroin. He had delivered signed statements to pain clinics he frequented stating he was a recovering drug addict and did not want to be prescribed any further medication. However, he relapsed and a Texas pain clinic gave him the drugs that led to his overdose.
Goodman, a nurse, filed formal complaints with the Texas Medical Board and criminal justice authorities. In 2007, Dr. Walid Hamad Hamoudi’s pain clinic, which had given Aaron the drugs that resulted in his death, was raided.
In late 2008, the Texas Medical Board held a hearing over multiple allegations of “non-therapeutic prescriptions,” inadequate records and misdiagnoses involving ten of Hamoudi’s patients. Following secretive mediation, the Board announced its decision on June 4, 2010: Hamoudi could retain his medical license by paying a $5,000 fine, passing an exam, completing 20 hours of training, and limiting his medical practice to the treatment of state prisoners for three years. See: In the Matter of the Complaint Against Walid Hamad Hamoudi, M.D., Texas Medical Board, License No. K-7027.
Ironically, within a few months following the Board’s decision, Hamoudi left his job where he treated state prisoners. The reason for his departure was not revealed, but budgetary problems at the time were resulting in the firing of many employees at the University of Texas Medical Branch, which provides health care for the state prison system.
Although the Texas Medical Board disciplined Hamoudi, he was not brought up on criminal charges and still retains his medical license. Goodman’s story and advocacy inspired the Texas legislature to pass and the governor to sign legislation creating a pain clinic registry.
“I fault doctors like Walid Hamoudi for prescribing unnecessary and highly addictive drugs in large quantities to people like my son. ... He needs to be held accountable for all the pain and misery he has brought on countless families,” Goodman said.
Unfortunately, cases like Hamoudi’s are not uncommon in Texas. Doctors who abuse their positions are not sentenced to incarceration in prison, but are sometimes allowed to continue treating state prisoners.
Indeed, when disciplining Hamoudi, the Board found that he had failed “to practice medicine in an acceptable, professional manner consistent with public health and welfare.” Apparently, though, his professional manner was consistent with providing medical care to prisoners.
Sources: Houston Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman
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