Psychiatrist loses ability to renew license due to prescribing violations

November 13, 2013

A former Fredericksburg psychiatrist has lost the ability to renew his medical license for allegedly improperly prescribing pills to patients in Harrisonburg.

In a ruling early this month, the Virginia Board of Medicine suspended Jeffrey K. Lightner’s ability to renew his license, which had expired in 2012.

The ruling came after an October hearing, which Lightner attended, about allegations that between 2004 and 2010, Lightner “consistently failed to screen patients for substance abuse, follow-up with patients to monitor their progress while taking medications, and respond in a timely and appropriate manner to changes in the clinical presentation,” according to the Board of Medicine’s order.

The incidents in question occurred at an unnamed medical facility in Harrisonburg where Lightner treated psychiatric patients.

The order says he didn’t do regular blood testing on a patient prescribed lithium, and prescribed the anti-seizure medicine Topamax for a patient whose progress notes say they’d stopped taking the medication.

He also allegedly refilled prescriptions for Xanax for a patient who claimed to have lost his pills in a variety of ways, such as them having been destroyed when a chicken coop at work collapsed upon his lunch pail, where he’d put the pills. The same patient was later diagnosed with an abuse problem but was still able to get Xanax from Lightner. Xanax is a potentially addictive anti-anxiety drug.

Another patient was able to get prescriptions from Lightner for medications that she had admitted to abusing, the order says.

All told, the order says, Lightner routinely authorized early refills or refilled prescriptions that should have been discontinued for at least eight patients, and prescribed potentially addictive drugs for patients who “exhibited drug-seeking behavior.”

The Board of Medicine’s order says Lightner also prescribed medication for at least three patients after their families or insurance companies reported that they were abusing the medications or seeking multiple prescriptions, and failed to make legible or thorough notes about several patients’ conditions and medications.

“Dr. Lightner stated that he would trust a patient for a period of time and would only notice drug-seeking behavior if it continued for an unspecified period of time,” the order says. “Dr. Lightner failed to recognize that there are specific indicators of drug-seeking behavior in patients and that Dr. Lightner should be more diligent in screening his patients and recognizing such behaviors.”

In 1999, Lightner was found liable in the death of a 75-year-old woman in his care in Fredericksburg. He had treated her at Snowden, but at the time of the lawsuit was reportedly working as a psychiatrist in Harrisonburg.

The Board of Medicine documents, however, list his address as Fredericksburg.

Lightner has 30 days in which to appeal the board’s decision.

Source: Chelyen Davis, "State penalizes former local psychiatrist," The Free Lance-Star, November 12, 2013.


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