The Herald Bulletin

December 11, 2013

Attorney general subpoenaed local death certificates

Link is local health center

By Scott L. Miley and Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — In 2011, Michael W. Lockridge Sr. had been receiving prescriptions from the Madison County Community Health Center to handle pain from diabetes and pulmonary disease, his fiancee told The Herald Bulletin this week.

On the day before he died in 2011, the 44-year-old Lockridge visited another doctor in Anderson who gave him a prescription for morphine, the fiancee, April Davis, said.

Lockridge’s death certificate is among 12 that were subpoenaed earlier this year by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office served on the Madison County Health Department, The Herald Bulletin learned through an open records request. The newspaper also obtained death certificates involving drug overdoses in the county back to 2010.

Lockridge’s cause of death, according to the Madison County Coroner’s Office, was due to mixed drug intoxication. No autopsy was performed as his death, which was ruled accidental, followed the ingestion of drugs on his own.

The names of physicians are not listed on the death certificates. The Herald Bulletin contacted families and found a common thread involving the health center, 1547 Ohio Ave. The subpoena does not name the health center or the reason for requesting the death records.

A second subpoena was served on the county coroner’s office seeking similar information. Marian Dunnichay, Madison County coroner, said she also received a subpoena from the attorney general’s office for the production of original documents for inspection in regard to drug overdose cases from 2010 through 2012.

“They wanted information on any case that may have been a drug overdose,” she said. “They provided a list of names, date of death and birth date. The request was for the toxicology test results and any autopsy information. They’re looking at names, who prescribed the drugs.”

Erin Reese, public information officer for the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, said as part of the information gathering process involving health care providers, the office occasionally seeks official records from other government agencies.

“The mechanism by which such records are obtained is through a subpoena,” she said. “The focus of such information gathering by the State is confidential, until and unless formal action is filed in the appropriate venue.”

Reese said there is currently a complaint filed against Dr. Frank Campbell, the former medical director of the Madison County Community Health Center, for allegedly pre-signing blank prescription forms. Campbell is scheduled to address the allegations before the Indiana Medical Licensing Board on Friday.

She said another complaint was filed previously against Mathew Taylor and Reagan Taylor, physician assistants at the Health Center for using pre-signed prescription forms based on advice from the center’s legal counsel. The Taylors voluntarily surrendered their controlled substance privileges in May. The licenses were reinstated in July by the Indiana Board of Pharmacy.

The center provides health care to the uninsured and under-insured in the area.

The Herald Bulletin attempted to reach surviving family members of the 12 people named in the subpoena. In those interviews, The Herald Bulletin found:

u Shannon Blizzard, 23, died Feb. 8, 2010. About a year before her death from a self-induced methadone overdose, Blizzard’s mother, Telisa Bradley, went to the health center and asked doctors to stop prescribing narcotics to Blizzard.

“I told them to red flag it because I didn’t know what else to do,” Bradley said Monday. The health center complied with the request but Blizzard continued abusing drugs, her mother said.

u Thomas House, 40, died on May 8, 2010, from hydrocodone intoxication, His stepmother, Elizabeth House, said he was a patient at the health center and had seen several doctors. More than one of the doctors prescribed pain medication to him. She said House was taking several pain medications at that same time.

She said House was being overprescribed drugs and, because of a learning disability, would take any drugs prescribed by a doctor. House said her stepson told his sister that the drugs were all prescribed by doctors.

“That is what led to his death,” Elizabeth House said.

 

Previous coverage: To read other news accounts of the Madison County Community Health Center, go to www.heraldbulletin.com