A Needham surgeon who formerly practiced at MetroWest Medical Center was arraigned today in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn, accused of illegally prescribing large amounts of Percocet pills to three patients, prosecutors said.
Dr. Kathaleen Porter, 59 of Needham Heights, pleaded not guilty to nine counts of illegally prescribing controlled substances and one count of furnishing false information in an application, according to Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone and the court clerk’s office.
Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said in a statement that Judge Bruce Henry released Porter after her arraignment with the conditions that she surrender her license to prescribe painkillers, must not travel outside of New England without prior court approval, must surrender her passport, must not commit any new offenses, and is required to update the Department of Public Health with respect to her new license status.
Porter has not worked at MetroWest since 2007, according to a spokeswoman for the medical center who declined further comment.
“We allege that Dr. Porter took advantage of her position and completely disregarded her patients’ obvious addictions by failing to address their pain needs in a medically responsible manner,” Leone said in an earlier statement. “We further allege that the defendant acted in extremely bad faith, putting multiple peoples’ health in jeopardy by recklessly feeding their addictions with no legitimate medical purpose.”
The investigation that ended in Porter’s arrest began in the winter of 2009, when the State Police received a complaint from a pharmacy in Framingham regarding the amount of prescriptions for Percocet being filled by a certain customer, the DA’s office said.
State Police discovered that the patient was using approximately 12 different pharmacies to fill prescriptions, but not the one closest to his home. Through an investigation, State Police learned that the patient was receiving signed prescriptions for Percocet from Porter, according to the DA’s office.
Meanwhile, the US Drug Enforcement Administration was investigating what prosecutors described as the “staggering” amount of prescriptions for Percocet being written by Porter. From from 2007 to 2009, Porter had three patients who in total received more than 58,000 Percocet pills, according to the DA's office.
Prosecutors allege that patients would call Porter’s phone, ask for the Percocets, and she would then, without seeing the patient, write the prescription and tape it to her closed office door. The three patients would pick up the prescriptions and fill them at various pharmacies. All three told authorities they are drug dependent and are seeking treatment.
According to the DA’s office, Porter’s unrelated surgical actions were under review by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine since 2007.
During her application for renewal of her DEA license to handle controlled substances, prosecutors say she falsely stated that there was no action pending regarding her state license, which led to the additional charge of furnishing false information in an application.