Physician Disciplined For Giving Patient Prozac: Not Keeping Records: Patient Killed Self—(The

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By Mary Ann Roser

Friday, June 05, 2009

Three Austin doctors were among 71 disciplined recently by the Texas Medical Board, including one who the board said abused substances and misprescribed drugs. Dr. Michael Bowen Pickrell, an internist and rheumatologist, sought treatment for problems that the board said were related to substance abuse, depression and “steroid psychosis” starting in December 2006 and continuing into 2007, but he left the programs against medical advice, according to the board’s order. He also self-medicated, improperly prescribed narcotics or other painkillers to six patients, and failed to follow up with a seventh patient who was tested and might have had a disease, the order said. Neither Pickrell nor his attorney could be reached for comment Thursday. Last week, the board ordered Pickrell to abstain from using alcohol, steroids and a list of other medications. He also must undergo drug testing, be evaluated by a board-designated psychiatrist and cooperate with treatment. The board also ordered: Dr. Theodore Dale Smith, who practices family medicine, to take a course in medical record-keeping because of inadequate documentation of a patient’s treatment for depression. The patient was given Prozac, which was appropriate, but committed suicide, the order said. The death was not related to using the medicine, according to the board. Smith’s records didn’t show whether he had discussed suicidal thoughts with the patient or whether he had scheduled the patient for a return visit. Smith, who did not return a call seeking comment, told the board he now prescribes only a one-month supply and requires a follow-up evaluation. Dr. Erika Irene Zimmerman, who practices family medicine, to take a course in either psychopharmacology or the treatment of depression. Zimmerman, who did not return a call seeking comment, had missed a deadline to complete a required training course the board had ordered her to take several years ago.