California hospital fires longtime physician over opioid prescribing habits

Sonoma (Calif.) Valley Hospital terminated the employment of a longtime physician last month for failing to follow the organization's opioid prescribing guidelines, reports the Sonoma Index-Tribune.

John Shafer, MD, practiced as a family medicine physician at Sonoma Valley Hospital for 56 years until his contract was terminated Jan. 29.

Dr. Shafer said he was let go for not "strictly adhering" to a 19-page agreement he signed outlining opioid prescription limits in line with federal regulations.

"They want you to just cut them off," Dr. Schafer told the Sonoma Index-Tribune. "I want to wean them off," he said, adding that it's "inhumane" and "cruel" to do the former.

In a Feb. 17 statement cited by the publication, Sonoma Valley Hospital said that "decisions involving all physician contracts with the hospital are made only after careful consideration and review of a number of factors including patient safety, the needs of the community and review of any applicable regulatory guidelines."

Sonoma Valley Hospital takes "considerable effort to understand the situation and take any available corrective actions in advance of termination," the hospital added.

To view the full report, click here.

More articles on opioids:
Ohio county considers adding 2nd morgue for surge in opioid overdose deaths
Medicaid expansion linked to drop in opioid overdose deaths
How Houston Methodist reduced opioid prescriptions by nearly 77%

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