Federal agents seize records from local doctor

May 22, 2018

The nationwide fight against opioid abuse reached Brownfield Tuesday and rocked the community’s primary healthcare facility.

Brownfield Regional Medical Center’s Rural Health Clinic was closed to patients temporarily Tuesday as agents from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency descended on the facility presenting documents to seize the medical records of Dr. Dennis Tedford, citing concerns of over prescribing opioid narcotics.

Agents arrived around 8 a.m. and stayed until noon, taking dozens of boxes out of the doctor’s office inside the clinic, located at 703 E. Felt Street.

BRMC administrators confirmed to the Brownfield News Tuesday morning that DEA agents were on site confiscating records and that the hospital is cooperating fully with the ongoing investigation.

“We are aware that government agencies are concerned about the public welfare of chronic pain patients and, to that end, ensuring proper compliance with numerous rules and regulations governing the prescribing of narcotic medications,” said hospital CEO Jerry Jasper. “We are reviewing applicable rules and regulations to ensure our compliance and to be sure that our patients receive quality care in all respects.”

Jasper told the News that a “complaint from an out of town pharmacist” was the catalyst for the investigation, but declined to comment further, citing the ongoing nature of the matter.

Dr. Tedford has practiced medicine in Brownfield since 1993 and is currently the longest-practicing doctor in the community. He graduated from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1986 and specializes in family medicine and gynecology.

Dr. Tedford is known locally for having delivered thousands of babies in the Brownfield hospital. He is an employee of the Lubbock-based Covenant Medical Group and contracts with BRMC and the Clinic.

Jasper said Dr. Tedford was on vacation this week and was unavailable for comment, but he added, “Dr. Tedford has served Brownfield well for 25 years and he is a caring and dedicated physician.

“All over the United States, prescription and treatment practices are being reviewed to try to determine the optimum approaches to the care for pain patients, with particular emphasis on seeking alternatives to opiate use,” Jasper said. “However, that is still a work in progress and we are participating in that effort. If there are adjustments which need to be made, either in education or practice, we intend to address them.”

An opioid epidemic across the nation has garnered significant attention in recent months, with President Trump presenting his approach to combatting the problem.

The President suggested reducing the demand and over-prescription of opioids, cutting off the supply of illegal drugs, and boosting access to treatment.

In an effort to better police the problem, the Drug Enforcement Agency added 250 task force officers in March to “crack down on the opioid epidemic.”

The additional manpower is focused on areas where the epidemic has hit the hardest, particularly in rural areas of the country.

“Positioning more robust resources such as task force officers in areas hardest hit by this epidemic will provide the strength and support needed to tackle this crisis in regions that need it most,” DEA acting Administrator Robert Patterson said at the time.

The BRMC Clinic was set to re-open to patients as usual on Wednesday.

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