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Suspension Ordered for Oxnard Physician

A state prosecutor accuses the doctor of over-prescribing addictive narcotics.

March 28, 2003|Catherine Saillant | Times Staff Writer

A judge this week ordered an Oxnard physician to stop practicing medicine after a state prosecutor alleged the doctor routinely over-prescribed addictive narcotics to his patients, including drugs that may have been a contributing factor in three deaths.

State Administrative Law Judge Jaime Rene Roman temporarily suspended Dr. Michael Huff's medical license Tuesday as the scope of several administrative and criminal probes into Huff's prescribing practices was laid out in court documents.

The suspension was sought by the California Medical Board in conjunction with the state attorney general's Health Quality Enforcement office.

Peter Bertling, Huff's attorney in the administrative proceeding, could not be reached for comment. A woman answering the phone at Huff's office said the doctor declined to comment.

In the past, Huff's criminal attorney has dismissed the allegations as rumors and exaggeration, saying the doctor sought merely to alleviate pain.

Court documents presented by Deputy Atty. Gen. Mara Faust focused on four female patients in Huff's Oxnard practice. All of them complained of pain, court documents show.

One, a 20-year-old heroin addict, was given more than 30 prescriptions for OxyContin, Vicodin and methadone over a 10-week period, the records show.

Two other patients were given so many powerful drugs that they had to undergo detoxification, the prosecutor said.

Meanwhile, investigators with the Ventura County Sheriff's Drug Task Force, which is conducting a criminal investigation into Huff, filed supporting affidavits.

A California Medical Board spokeswoman said Huff can appeal the suspension at an April 10 hearing in Sacramento.

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