Drug Diversion in Rhode Island, Doc Suspended for Drug Abuse

January 7, 2013

In the wake of the David M. Kwiatkowski case, another story of drug diversion is being reported from Rhode Island.

According to the Providence Journal, Health Director Michael Fine has suspended the license of Dr. Michael C. Coburn, a surgeon formerly with privileges at Kent Hospital.

Coburn’s license was suspended after admitting to drug abuse, according to the breaking news article.

After another doctor caught Coburn removing syringes from an operating room, Coburn “admitted to resuming drug abuse” and to injecting himself with propofol, a sedative used in anesthesia, and fentanyl, a painkiller, according to Fine’s summary suspension order. A search of his sleeping room found syringes, needles, blood-soaked gauze and vial caps. Kent placed Coburn on medical leave of absence on Nov. 15 and he has not seen patients since.

Although it was noted by the Journal article that the Health Director ruled “Coburn’s continuation in the practice of medicine would pose an immediate danger to the public,” it is unclear from current news reports if any patients were placed at risk by re-used syringes.

According to NECN.com, Coburn was placed on medical leave at Kent Hospital on November 15 and has not continued to see patients.

Dr. Coburn was named to the list of Top Doctors by U.S. News & World Reports in 2011.

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