May 27, 2020

Doctors, state resolve misconduct cases

This month, a former Maine Medical Association president permanently gave up his drug prescribing privileges and another doctor received conditional reinstatement two years after a sexual misconduct charge was leveled at him.

Both agreements, between the doctors and Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine, became effective in December.

Former Maine Medical Association president Dr. Donald M. Robertson of Machias has agreed not to seek renewal of a DEA license he surrendered in 1997. That brings to a close the licensing issue that was widely publicized. About three years ago the DEA opened an investigation into Robertson’s prescribing practices after area medical workers alleged Robertson was over-prescribing pain medication.

Robertson, who has practiced in Maine since 1966, decided to reach an agreement with the board in 1997 rather than fight the allegation. At the time, Robertson defended his actions but told the Bangor Daily News that it would be very expensive to fight the DEA “and impossible to consider.”

Instead, Robertson signed a consent agreement in 1997 that said many of his patients had a history of substance abuse or drug peddling, and the doctor failed to properly manage and monitor patients. “In the opinion of the reviewers [of Robertson’s prescriptions], the Licensee also over-utilized narcotics,” the agreement stated.

Robertson had some staunch supporters who suggested he was simply aggressively treating pain when others were not. For its part, the DEA kept details of the accusations secret.

In April of this year, some officials told the NEWS that Robertson’s actions were a contributing factor to the growing problem of prescription drugs being diverted for recreational use. Dr. Timothy Clifford, medical director of the Bureau of Medical Services which administers Medicaid, told a NEWS reporter in April that loose prescribing practices for noncancer pain had created a group of more than 40 patients dependent on painkillers. That adds to Washington County’s problems which outstrip those of more populous counties, officials say.

Since then, the licensee has received complete medical, psychiatric and substance abuse evaluations ordered by the board.

In the latest agreement, Robertson agreed not to seek a new DEA registration and to allow random checks of patient charts over the next two years. Robertson did not return a call to his office seeking comment.

In another action this month, the board granted a conditional reinstatement of the license for Dr. Donald Trumbull of Stockton Springs.

In 1998, Trumbull agreed to surrender his license after allegations were made to the board that as part of an unsupervised examination of a girl in eighth grade, he had performed an inappropriate breast exam and a pelvic examination without using a glove.

In a 1998 consent agreement, Trumbull, who was then practicing in Tenants Harbor, agreed that the events described constituted sexual misconduct and agreed to psychiatric-psychological evaluation and 500 hours of public service in addition to license surrender.

Under terms of this month’s reinstatement for conditional license, Trumbull agreed not to see, care for or treat minor female patients. He agreed to continue treatment with a therapist until both agree to terminate the treatment.

On Friday, Trumbull said that while he did ask that his license be reinstated he has “no plans at this time” about when or where he would resume practice. He said he just wants the incident behind him.

He was first licensed in Maine in 1983.

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