A North Texas physician was recently sentenced to twenty years in prison in connection with the death of seven patients from 2012 to 2017. Pain management doctor, Howard Gregg Diamond, is the former principal physician at the Diamondback Pain & Wellness Center in Sherman, Texas. In July 2017, Diamond was indicted by a federal grand jury after authorities found evidence that Diamond had written countless prescriptions for addictive opioid medications without a legitimate medical purpose since 2010. In July 2014, Diamond distributed or dispensed morphine, oxycodone, alprazolam, and zolpidem to a patient that resulted in the patient’s death just ten days after the medications were prescribed. Law enforcement authorities also linked six other overdose related deaths to prescriptions written by Diamond between 2010 and 2017. The overdose deaths occurred in several cities in both Texas and Oklahoma.
The Texas Medical Board suspended Diamond’s medical license in 2017 on grounds that he posed a continuing threat to public welfare. Diamond later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and health care fraud. The health care fraud conviction resulted from Diamond submitting a claim for reimbursement to Medicare claiming that he treated a Medicare patient in 2015, although he was out of state at the time. According to some reports, Diamond ranked number one in Texas and twelfth in the nation for the total number of prescriptions written among doctors with a shared specialty in 2014.
Although Diamond faced criminal charges, health care providers such as Diamond may be subject to medical malpractice lawsuits in connection with overdose related injury or death. As the number of overdose related deaths continues to rise, some counties in various states across the country have filed lawsuits against manufacturers and wholesalers of opioid medications.