Case of Doctor Stripped of License to Prescribe Controlled Substances Raises Interesting Issues

The Utah doctor whose license to prescribe controlled substances to his patients says he was helping many of his patients who had become opioid dependent. The state Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing believes otherwise. The licensing board believes the doctor did not have enough contact with his patients to evaluate them and complete important and required medical records. Dr. Paul Marie Gahlinger lives on a remote island and uses his telemedicine clinic to treat his patients. “Telemedicine is a legal way to treat patients,” Gahlinger countered by phone Wednesday. “This is how you reach rural patients who otherwise would not be able to get care.” In spite of his protestations, the licensing board found that he poses “an immediate threat to public health, safety and welfare.” The administration of controlled substances continues to raise ethical and medical issues for healthcare providers across the country. On the one hand, pain management is an important issue while the abuse of controlled substances has become epidemic in some parts of the country.