FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. -- A Forsyth County doctor accused of overprescribing pills to patients is speaking out after losing his medical license.
"I think it was unfair of them to do that," explains Dr. James Campbell.
Dr. Campbell was issued his medical license from the North Carolina Medical Board in 1975. He'd practiced in the western part of the state, moved around a bit and resettled back in Forsyth county. He was working out of his practice in Clemmons when the Board started receiving complaints in 2015.
Documents from the North Carolina Medical Board indicates Dr. Campbell was being investigated after three of his patients died and 3 other complainants accused him of prescribing too many opiates.
Dr. Campbell says he was trying to serve his community through an "old country practice." He didn't require medical insurance, he had his own system for keeping records and he didn't want his patients getting anything from the "black market."
"I was sympathetic to chronic pain and would examine them carefully, document their pain and get them on their appropriate medication," he explains.
But the Board concluded in 2017 that Dr. Campbell posed a "safety risk" and that his conduct was "unprofessional." The Board revoked his license in December 2017 after it's investigation. By that point, Dr. Campbell had already closed his practice, saying he was planning to retire anyway.
"He didn't do his job," says Teresa Joyner. "I don't understand him at all."
Joyner lost her son Jeffrey Stafford in 2015 to an overdose. His death certificate says there was heroin and other drugs in his system. Stafford was a patient of Dr. Campbell's. Joyner found her son's medical records from Campbell's practice after he passed away and couldn't believe what he was being prescribed.
"I was just shocked that he would write him that kind of Oxycodone and Alprazolam," she says.
The amounts were so high, she was encouraged by her doctor to report them to the state Medical Board. Her complaint was detailed in the Board's investigation, and the Board's report indicates, in part, that Dr. Campbell didn't adequately check her son's medical history; didn't provide adequate details in documenting his chronic pain; didn't monitor his history of substance abuse; didn't document any other types of treatment or if they worked; and did put the patient on a high does of opiate medications.
It's important to note Dr. Campbell isn't charged in any of his patients' deaths.
There's no way to prove where Joyner's son got the drugs he overdosed on , but she believes Dr. Campbell didn't provide the best help for her son, who had a past record of drug abuse. She's relieved Dr. Campbell isn't allowed to write more prescriptions.
"I think it was a straight up pill mill," she says.
But Dr. Campbell stands his ground. He says he doesn't think he was the problem; he was part of the solution. He adds, he can't take responsibility for any of his patient's deaths or what they do with their medications after they're prescribed.
"You have to feel the guilt to be shamed and I don't feel guilty," he says.
Dr. Campbell says if he could go back in time, he would do audio recordings during his patient's visits. He says the one of the Board's biggest problems was that his documentation was scant.
To view the state Medical Board's decision about revoking Dr. Campbell's license, click here.
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