Dentist Wrote 200 Opioid Prescriptions For Five Patients In One Year

By Paul Gaita 12/03/18

The dentist who wrote the opioid prescriptions claims state investigator were "telling lies" but he did not provide or clarify any additional details.

dentist writing opioid prescription to patient

A dentist in Tennessee has had his professional license revoked for reportedly writing approximately 200 prescriptions for opioid medications to just five patients, some of whom were never physically present in his office.

A discipline report from the Tennessee Department of Health revealed that Michael R. Tittle, 64, who maintained a dental practice in the small town of Erwin, Tennessee, allegedly lacked the proper records to justify writing the prescriptions, which in one case totaled 71 prescriptions for 10 hydrocodone pills over the course of just six months.

In a statement to the Tennessean, Tittle claimed that state investigators were "telling lies," but he did not provide or clarify any additional details.

In addition to the revocation of his license, Tittle was also assessed a civil penalty of $13,000, plus court costs not to exceed $3,000. These details, as well as the allegations against Dr. Tittle, were made public on November 15 as part of a monthly discipline report by the state Department of Health, which maintains public records on doctors and other health care professionals throughout the state. 

According to the report, Tittle's office came under investigation after the Department of Health received a complaint about his prescribing practices while on a five-year probation for multiple infection control violations. After reviewing his Controlled Substance Monitoring Database report, the Department requested 13 dental records; these were found to lack "a concise description and justification for the amount and frequency of controlled substances," according to the report

Prescription records for five patients were also highlighted in the report; in addition to the aforementioned patient, one patient is reported to have received 49 prescriptions for hydrocodone and 14 prescriptions for oxycodone, totaling 630 tablets, between October 2016 and September 2017.

Another patient reportedly received 24 prescriptions, totaling 210 tablets, for more than a year after undergoing a root canal, while a third received two prescriptions for oxycodone and two for hydrocodone, all totaling 110 tablets, between August and November 2015, despite the fact that no documentation could confirm that the patient had ever set foot in Tittle's office.

The report also noted that Tittle admitted to having a pre-signed, blank prescription slip in his office that had been "copied onto security paper to generate additional pre-signed prescription slips."

To settle the case, Tittle agreed to the revocation of his Tennessee dental license as well as $1,000 in civil penalties for each of the 13 records reviewed by the Department of Health and the "actual and reasonable costs" of prosecuting the case. The findings were also reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.