Doctor Stands By Writing More Than 300k Opioid Prescriptions

By Kelly Burch 09/28/18

“I was never charged or ever investigated because I didn’t commit any crimes. I prescribed narcotics to people in pain."

female doctor writing prescription

When Dr. Katherine Hoover was working at a pain clinic in West Virginia between 2002 and 2010, she wrote more than 335,130 prescriptions for painkillers, which breaks down to 130 prescriptions each day, seven days per week. 

Despite the outrageous numbers, Hoover recently told NBC News that she stands by her actions and she didn’t do anything wrong. 

“I was never charged or ever investigated because I didn’t commit any crimes,” Hoover said. “I prescribed narcotics to people in pain. I did everything I could to help people have a better life, which I told the FBI. Every prescription I wrote was justified for the person who had gotten it.”

Despite the fact that she practiced in the state with the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths, Hoover sees no connection between her actions and the crisis. 

“That’s not because of doctors,” Hoover said. “It’s actually gotten worse since they forced doctors out of business who do their best to treat pain patients… The first and real problem in our country is the high rate of suicide and the distress people are in. That’s the epidemic that we need to start looking at.”

Hoover began working at Mountain Medical Care Center, a private clinic in Williamson, West Virginia that was reportedly known for easily giving out prescriptions.

Each morning, cash patients would line up outside the clinic, where first-time patients paid $450 to see a doctor, and returning patients paid $150 to the receptionist to write a refill for their prescriptions. In 2009 alone the clinic took in more than $4.6 million in cash, according to court documents. 

“They called it ‘Pilliamson’ instead of Williamson,” Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks told The Charleston Gazette in 2011. “It was an open secret, you might say.” 

In 2010, federal authorities shut down the clinic. The office manager and another doctor who worked at the clinic were charged with crimes including selling narcotics prescriptions, but Hoover was never charged. She received a civil penalty of $88,029 and reportedly fled to the Bahamas.

Over the past eight years, according to NBC, Hoover has been elusive with her whereabouts, although she is still engaging in lawsuits including with a dry dock company that she says wrecked her yacht. 

Speaking with NBC, Hoover said that doing time in jail would not solve anything. 

"We need to stop putting people in jail," she said. "Our jails are full of innocent people. This needs to be addressed as a public health problem. Everybody in our society is addicted to something."

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.