An Arcata doctor embroiled in a protracted fight with the California Medical Board over allegations that she excessively prescribed opioids has reached a deal that will allow her to retain her license.
Connie Basch admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, which will allow her to continue practicing under a monitoring system and require her to take a number of specified courses through a 35-month probationary period. Basch, who runs the Full Circle Center for Integrative Medicine in Arcata and whose patients have vocally come to her defense, has repeatedly defended her conduct, saying she cares for patients who came to her using excessive amounts of opioids for chronic pain and that state guidelines for weaning such patients are potentially dangerous.
"I settled because I could not afford the legal fees to fight it further and because I was offered a deal that allowed me to continue to prescribe as I see fit so that no one would get cut off their meds suddenly," Basch told Pain News Network
. "I was afraid if I went to a hearing and tried to appear (without an attorney) and somehow pissed off the judge I might wind up with a settlement that prohibited prescribing for a year, which was their initial proposal, and that there might be preventable deaths in my patient population as a result."
The allegation filed in May of 2019 focused on Basch's care for five patients and alleged she acted with gross negligence in continuing to prescribe patients large amounts of opioids, failing to maintain adequate records and ignoring red flags for opioid abuse.
The settlement agreement requires Basch to keep detailed records of all drugs she prescribes and to make them immediately available for inspection by state investigators. Further, the settlement requires Basch to enroll in educational courses on prescribing practices, medical record keeping and medical ethics at her own expense, while also coming under a program of professional monitoring by a physician in good standing with the board. The monitor is then required to submit quarterly written reports to the board evaluating Basch's performance.
If Basch fails to satisfactorily complete the 35-month probationary period, her license will be revoked under the terms of the board's order.
Read both the full accusation filed against Basch and the settlement agreement here