License suspended for ‘negligence’

Observer file photo Dr. Eric Thomas
Observer file photo
Dr. Eric Thomas


The State Board of Medical Examiners last week temporarily suspended the medical license of a North Arlington physician who allegedly “indiscriminately” prescribed powerful painkillers to patients, N.J. Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced.

It is also alleged that Dr. Eric Thomas, who reportedly had a practice on Ridge Road, failed to take appropriate action when urine tests revealed that his patients were taking illegal narcotics, such as cocaine and heroin.

“The urine tests also showed no presence of the painkillers that Thomas had prescribed, a warning sign that patients were not taking the painkillers, but instead may have been providing the pills to others,” a statement from Hoffman’s office said.

In addition, after reviewing six patient records presented by the state, the Board of Medical Examiners found that Thomas “did not document appropriate physical examinations of the patients; did not document patient medical histories; did not create treatment plans, and did not perform or order diagnostic testing,” the AG’s office reported.

The state maintained that Thomas’ conduct constituted “gross negligence” that “endangered the life, health, welfare or safety” of his patients.

The license suspension went into effect at 5 p.m. last Friday, Dec. 4, and is to remain in effect until the conclusion of plenary hearings or until the board issues another order.

According to the current suspension order, the physician continued to prescribe opiates [including Oxycodone and OxyContin] even after checking the N.J. Prescription Monitoring and Reporting System (PMRS), which reportedly disclosed that the patients were “doctor shopping.” In several instances, the order states, the patients were identified on the PMRS as securing prescriptions from as many as 10 other physicians.

The board also found that Thomas “failed to appropriately respond when he discovered some patients had high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes and other medical conditions,” Hoffman’s office stated.

“Prescription drug abuse, particularly abuse involving painkillers, is a national problem, one that Dr. Thomas abetted through his negligent practice of medicine,” Hoffman stated. “The flood of prescription painkillers in our communities starts with indiscriminate prescribing by physicians violating their duty to ‘do no harm.’”

The case was investigated by the Division of Consumer Affairs’ Enforcement Bureau, in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and North Arlington Police Department.

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