Port Clinton doctor indicted on hundreds of felony drug charges

PORT CLINTON, Ohio (WTVG) - A doctor in Port Clinton is facing hundreds of charges in federal court after prosecutors say he prescribed thousands of doses powerful painkillers such as fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and other drugs, without regard to medical necessity.

William R. Bauer, 82, was indicted on 200 counts of distribution of controlled substances and 14 counts of healthcare fraud on Wednesday.

According to the indictment, Bauer repeatedly prescribed controlled substances outside his professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose for doing so. Among the conduct cited by court documents is "performing inadequate examinations and gathering inadequate medical histories; failing to establish an objective pain diagnosis; failing to consider non-opioid treatment options; prescribing high doses of opioids to patients without regard to any improvement in pain level, function or quality of life; failing to consider a patient’s state of addiction; ignoring signs and warnings that patient family members were stealing substances prescribed to the patients; ignored warning letters about improper prescribing; patients running out of pills from overuse and frequently requesting early refills, and other actions."

The offenses reportedly began in 2007. The indictment details approximately 200 times in which Bauer improperly distributed said controlled substances -- including fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, tramadol, methadone and others -- to just seven patients over the course of a four year period between 2015 and 2018.

Bauer is also accused of regularly administering epidural injections and trigger point injections involving large cumulative doses of methylprednisolone without medical necessity. These injections failed to meet procedural requirements because he did not use an adequate level of imaging to monitor the placement of needles in the spine. This action made it impossible to determine whether the injections were billable to insurance and resulted in fraudulent bills being provided to insurance companies, according to the indictment.

“This physician is accused of recklessly prescribing thousands of doses of fentanyl and other painkillers to people for no legitimate medical purpose,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “We will pursue doctors who flood our streets with pills and patches just as aggressively as we do the cartels and drug traffickers who seek to profit from the drug epidemic here in Ohio.”

“It’s a terrible betrayal of the public-trust when professionals like Dr. William Bauer are engaged in corrupt practices, to include the diversion of controlled substances,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin. “DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to seek-out drug-dealing physicians and other corrupt health-care practitioners and bring them to justice.”

“Every pill mill that we shut down is a win for addiction recovery efforts in our communities,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said. “My office and our partners at the local, state and federal levels are determined to root out these operations so they can be held accountable for their roles in this crisis.”