Under the guise of treating chronic pain, a doctor in Stafford, Va., ran a “pill mill” that led to a patient’s fatal overdose, according to an indictment in federal court in Alexandria.
Hundreds of patients of Nibedita Mohanty, former chief of medicine at Stafford Hospital, were given excessive prescriptions for addictive medications despite warnings that the drugs were being abused, distributed and resold, a grand jury concluded.
Mohanty, 56, served as hospital chief from June 2009 to February 2013, according to the indictment, and represented herself as a doctor working in chronic pain management.
She prescribed narcotic pills to patients who had been jailed for selling controlled substances and even to someone who, she was explicitly told, would sell the drugs to pay another patient’s bond, the indictment alleges.
It says that when urine tests showed that several patients were not taking the medications they were prescribed or were taking illegal drugs, she gave them new prescriptions anyway.
Although a letter from another doctor warned that one patient had a history of painkiller addiction and was attempting to stay off of them, Mohanty gave her prescriptions for OxyContin, Percocet and Dilaudid, the indictment alleges. After the patient was hospitalized for an overdose, Mohanty discharged her and, less than two weeks later, prescribed more painkillers. The patient died of an oxycodone overdose the next day.
Mohanty “rapidly and randomly increased the dosages” of patients’ drugs, according to the indictment, inducing them to regularly pay $250 cash for appointments. She installed a swimming pool in her home, paying in cash.
She “rarely, if ever, counseled her patients regarding alternative treatments, such as physical therapy, psychological or addiction counseling, or surgery,” the indictment alleges.
Mohanty was indicted on one count of participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances; one count of distributing and dispensing a controlled substance resulting in the death of a patient; two counts of distributing and dispensing controlled substances resulting in serious bodily injury; 38 counts of distributing and dispensing controlled substances; two counts of aiding and abetting health-care fraud; and one count of aiding and abetting money laundering.
She faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a $10 million fine should she be convicted of the most serious charges.
Mohanty was arrested in May of 2013 after an investigation launched by the Stafford County Sheriff’s Department and assisted by Virginia State Police and the FBI.
Her home and office were raided in January and her medical license was suspended in April, officials said. Last September, she surrendered her license for three years.