For four years, an Ooltewah doctor worked with an online company to illegally prescribe narcotic drugs like oxycodone, morphine, and Xanax to Tennessee patients without ever seeing those patients in person, Tennessee investigators have found.
Starting in 2010, family practitioner Robert Alan Coles collaborated with a Texas man to prescribe the medications through an online business, called Central Medical Consults, according to an agreement order with the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners.
The Texas-based business owner, Jeff Hall, has no medical training, and Central Medical Consults is not a licensed clinic in Tennessee. Officials said Hall "found patients via the internet, took their information, and referred the patients to [Coles] for an initial visit."
But there were no visits. Instead, Coles "engaged in a pattern of writing refills of controlled substances for the CMC patients without seeing the patient in person or communicating directly with the patient," the order states.
Coles would prescribe the drugs based solely on telephone conversations or electronic information supplied by Hall. Hall then paid the doctor for each "tele-consultation." Eventually, the doctor made a stamp of his signature for Hall, who could then write and sign prescriptions under Cole's name.
During the state's investigation, officials also found that Coles fraudulently prescribed drugs under his wife's name, giving her a wide range of drugs — including hydrocodone, oxycodone, Adderall, Ambien and Lithium — without ever showing proof of medical necessity.
"Some of these medications were intended for [Coles'] wife; some were intended for [Coles'] personal use," the order states.
Coles continued to prescribe his wife the drugs "even though he was aware for her history of alcohol abuse and after he became aware that she was misusing prescription drugs."
Following the investigation by the state board, Coles surrendered his license, was fined $31,000, and has been ordered to pay an additional $25,000 to cover the cost of the investigation. Meanwhile, Coles' Georgia medical license expired while he was under investigation there for the operation of an unlicensed pain management clinic.
Neither Coles nor his attorney, William G. Schwall, could be immediately reached for comment.
See Thursday's Times Free Press for more on this story.