The state has suspended the license of a Largo doctor after an investigation concluded that she prescribed "excessive and inappropriate" quantities of powerful painkillers and anxiety drugs to her patients.
The investigation found that over about 21/2 years, Dr. Michelle Lee Snyder of Snyder Family Medicine prescribed nearly 95,000 tablets and other forms of controlled substances to five patients. The drugs included oxycodone, morphine, methadone and fentanyl, which are used to treat pain, along with Xanax and other anti-anxiety medications.
Snyder could not be reached for comment. An answering machine message at Snyder Family Medicine said "our offices are closed until further notice. To our current patients, please find a new doctor temporarily."
According to the April 9 order suspending Snyder's license, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office reported potential trouble to the state Department of Health on or about July 25, 2008. "Dr. Snyder appeared to be prescribing excessive quantities of controlled substances," the report said.
Those allegations were supported by pharmacy and patient records. The documents showed Snyder prescribed about 17,000 tablets of controlled substances to one patient, identified as "C.D.," over 16 months. The osteopathic medicine expert who reviewed the records said there were ''minimal, if any, office notes" for most patient visits, and that Snyder failed to get an adequate medical history for the patient.
In another case, the investigation found that Snyder prescribed nearly 25,000 tablets, 4,150 prescription lollipops and 22 other boxes of controlled substances to patient "T.B." over two years and three months.
"I don't know how a person can function or their organ system function on this level of medication," the expert wrote.
Based on the findings, the order concluded that Snyder committed medical malpractice in the excessive prescriptions and the lack of medical records to justify the treatments.
The order, signed by state Surgeon General Ana M. Viamonte Ros, suspended Snyder's license and noted that a proceeding seeking formal suspension of discipline of her license will be held later.
Richard Martin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8330.