Owner of a Wisconsin pain clinic charged as part of a nationwide opioids crackdown

A nurse licensed to prescribe drugs and her ex-husband associated with a Wauwatosa pain management clinic have been charged with running an illegal pill mill that gave thousands of opioids to people who didn't really need them, federal authorities said. According to a federal indictment, Lisa Hofschulz, 58, who also practices in Florida, and Robert Hofschulz, 70, conspired to distribute the drugs to customers who didn't have a legitimate medical need for them. They ran Clinical Pain Consultants at 2500 N. Mayfair Road in Wauwatosa.

The clinic opened in late 2014 and took only cash payments and no insurance. It deposited $800,000 into its account in 2015 and more than $1 million in cash in 2016. The indictment charges they hired other prescribers, newly graduated nurse prescribers with little pain management experience and directed them to also prescribe the painkillers. They also directed a registered nurse, someone who was not authorized to prescribe the drugs, to distribute them to customers when the licensed prescribers refused, the indictment charges. For favored customers, Lisa Hofschulz would even mail the prescriptions without an office visit, according to the charges.

On her clinic's website, she lists the following philosophy: My goal is to understand the causes and effects of each patient’s pain and to develop an individualized treatment plan for each. With regular follow-up, I assess your progress, and make adjustments to the plan as needed. But, state nursing board records provide more detail into Hofschulz's actual practice. They show she provided monthly prescriptions for several kinds of drugs, even when urine tests show clients weren't using some of the drugs — suggesting that they were potentially selling them instead — and were, in fact, testing positive for non-prescribed, sometimes illegal drugs. Some clients used cocaine. Hofschulz also routinely neglected to take or document her patients' vital signs.

In addition, Hofschulz regularly prescribed massive doses; in the case of one client, she prescribed 210 oxycodone 30mg tablets every month for four months, up from the 180 and 150 tablets she'd prescribed throughout the previous eight months. For the same patient, she prescribed 60 alprazolam 1mg tablets monthly for nearly a year despite the patient consistently testing negative for the drug, according to state nursing board records. In April, Hofschulz signed a stipulated 21-day suspension of her license, and a limitation of her practice to non-pain treatment, and a $10,000 reimbursement to the state for the investigation.

The records also indicate she has stopped practicing in Wisconsin, though the website of Clinical Pain Consultants continues to list her as one of the office's practitioners. If she ever intends to practice again in Wisconsin, she must provide 15 days' notice. Officials at the clinic could not be reached immediately on Friday, a day their office is closed.

Before Hofshulz started Clinical Pain Consultants in late 2014, she had launched another Wauwatosa pain clinic that the Journal Sentinel revealed in April is also under federal investigation. Hofschulz joined with Justin Hanson, a roofer without any medical training, to open Wauwatosa Pain Management Clinic in 2013. Former employees told agents that Hanson exerted heavy pressure to prescribe the pain pills, even for patients whose urine screens showed they weren't taking them or had run out of their last allotment before they should have if they had been using them as prescribed.

Less than two years after starting the business, Hanson bought out Hofschulz, sold her share to NuMale Medical and renamed the clinic Universal Pain Center, at 6001 W. North Ave. Former employees of Universal Pain Center told investigators that patients would usually pay about $300 for an initial visit and then $200 for follow-ups when they would get prescription refills. Investigators believe the patients willingly paid more than they would have using insurance at other providers "because they reliably and consistently receive opioids there for which there is no legitimate medical purpose."

Reference: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/crime/2018/06/29/owner-prescribers-tosa-pain-clinic-charged-opioids-case/744211002/
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