Pittsburgh Doctor Charged In The Overdose Deaths Of Two Patients – One Was Doctor Shopping
Pittsburgh area physician Dr. Michel Toret, 71, was charged last week for allegedly causing the deaths of two of his patients by over-prescribing them opioids, according to state prosecutors. Reports state that at least one of the deceased patients was doctor shopping.
The office of the attorney general charged Toret with drug delivery resulting in death for the overdoses of Glenn Morgan and Heather Dervin in 2016. Toret’s defense attorney stated that the physician did not violate standards of care and that he intends to defend him again the charges.
The investigation began late last year after one of Toret’s employees reported that he was prescribing large amounts of opioids.
Dervin, 26, died on in September 2016, a week after receiving a methadone prescription from Dr. Toret. The affidavit stated that he continued to prescribe her drugs, even after she reported needing additional prescriptions after the drugs had allegedly been stolen.
Indeed, a “caller” told Toret that Dervin was engaging in doctor shopping, and a drug screen revealed that she was using illicit drugs, as well.
Another physician, Dr. Stephen Thomas, was employed by prosecutors, and after reviewing her file, he described Dervin as a “young woman with pain complaints, mental disorder and little to justify the high-dose opioid prescribing she was receiving.”
He accused Toret of ignoring Dervin’s signs of addiction and engaging in “haphazard prescribing that was the proximate mechanism of her death.”
Morgan, 30, died in October 2016, in a Kansas hotel room just days after Toret gave him a prescription for oxymorphone. Police said that Morgan’s cell phone contained a text to Dr. Torets wife, stating that he was seeking prescriptions for “high strength doses of opioid analgesics” more than a week before his death.
Thomas stated that Morgan complained of lower back pain after a motor vehicle accident and that the “treatment was prescription opioids in the absence of a clear structural diagnosis.”
But there was more – in addition to the opioids, Toret also prescribed Morgan high-dose benzodiazepines. Combining these two medications significantly increases the risk of overdose, far more than using just one alone.
The criminal complaint states that “typical office visits [were] weighed by the nurse and…prescriptions for narcotics [were obtained] in about two minutes from Dr. Toret.”
It also alleges that after learning of Dervin’s overdose, Toret stated “nine junkies die in Pennsylvania every day” and “you girls don’t like birth control, so that keeps the population going.”
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology