Humboldt General Hospital Officials Confirm Charge Against Local Doctor

Humboldt General Hospital officials have confirmed that a local doctor pled guilty Tuesday, February 5, in federal court to one count of unlawfully distributing a controlled substance.

Dr. Li, who has worked at Humboldt General Hospital as a family practice physician specializing in cardiology since 2007, admitted he prescribed Oxycodone and Hydrocodone, both opioid pain medications, to patients outside the usual course of his medical practice.

“In other words,” said HGH Legal Counsel Kent Maher, “it appears doctors can be charged criminally if investigators believe they have not properly vetted patients regarding their opioid use.”

Dr. Li’s plea agreement comes as Nevada continues to deal with what former Governor Brian Sandoval called a statewide opioid epidemic. In January 2018, Nevada initiated sweeping changes in the way medical providers can prescribe opioids.

The idea behind Assembly Bill 474 is to reduce the number of overdose deaths in Nevada by requiring prescribers to perform more rigorous and recurring assessments before sending patients home with high-powered pain relievers like oxycodone, morphine and others.

Legislators said the regulations were a necessary step in curbing Nevada’s opioid epidemic, which leads the nation, and the state continues to consider programs, resources and even science that may eventually help family practice providers effectively meet the needs of long-term opioid users.

Dr. Li’s sentencing hearing will take place on June 10, 2019.

Humboldt County Hospital District Board of Trustees Chairman JoAnn Casalez said trustees are aware of the charge involving Dr. Li and will be considering the situation and how to best serve Humboldt General Hospital’s patients.

HGH Interim CEO Karen Cole said the staff of Humboldt General Hospital remain committed to the mission of the organization, in meeting the healthcare needs of the community.