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.