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Dr. Vern Erickson

Park Rapids doctor reprimanded by state board

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Park Rapids doctor Vern Erickson has been reprimanded and his license to practice medicine is restricted for one year.

Citing "unethical and unprofessional conduct; improper management of medical records; inappropriate prescribing," the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice issued a Stipulation and Order July 14.

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Erickson, 68, owns and operates Erickson Medical Clinic in downtown Park Rapids.

He said he is appealing the reprimand and the claims contained in it are "false. It's a wrong assumption," he said Friday.

"I've been accused of giving more Tylenol than what they're supposed to."

The order states the Board, acting on a March 2011 complaint, found that Erickson was over-prescribing narcotics to his patients and failed to keep accompanying patient records.

Erickson "authorized excessive quantities of narcotics based upon his patients' claims of pain, but failed to document objective clinical findings to support the need for ongoing medications, failed to document an overall treatment plan, failed to adequately address collateral health concerns, failed to explore non-narcotic treatment options, and failed to provide referrals to pain clinic programs."

Erickson said he attended a hearing before the board in May, not even knowing which of his patients had lodged the complaint.

After the hearing he said he learned that it was a patient who lost her medication twice, so he re-filled the doses "so she wouldn't go into withdrawal."

He said the patient "did not overdose on Tylenol and that's what they're accusing me of."

Erickson complained that he was unable to defend himself at the hearing without knowing who the patient was or having her records there to refer to.

"They just accused me and I had no records to say anything," he said. "Their records are wrong. I didn't give her Tylenol. They assumed it was. I gave her more narcotics so she wouldn't go through withdrawals."

He said the patient's mother stole the medications and then went into treatment.

"I got falsely accused of giving her (the patient) too much medication when in actuality I treated her because her medicine was stolen twice. It was the right practice of medicine because you don't want to have them go through withdrawal. She has chronic pain.," he said.

Erickson was licensed in 1982. Here is the list of remedial actions in the order:

"Dr. Erickson's license is conditioned and restricted as follows:

"1. He is reprimanded.

"2. He shall read the "Model Policy for the Use of Controlled Substances for the Treatment of Pain," and "Responsible Opioid Prescribing, A Physician's Guide."

"3. Following completion of the readings and within three months, he shall write and submit a paper, for review and approval by the Complaint Review Committee, discussing what he has learned and how he has implemented this knowledge into his practice.

"4. He shall maintain a daily log of all controlled substance prescriptions, which shall be available for review by his designated Board member.

"5. He shall maintain patient records that reflect the patient complaint, examination, diagnosis, treatment plan, response to therapy, and medications prescribed, including refills.

"6. He shall develop, and submit for Committee approval, a narcotic contract for use with all patients receiving narcotics for chronic pain.

"7. He shall develop and submit for Committee approval a written protocol for the management and tracking of controlled substance prescriptions.

"8. Three months from the date of this Order, he shall undergo an audit of his prescribing practices.

"9. He shall meet quarterly with a designated Board member.

"10. He shall pay a $5,948 civil penalty.

"11. This Stipulation and Order shall remain in effect for a minimum of one year."

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