Boulder Health System, Employees Agree to Resolve Investigation into Improper Prescribing of Opioids

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announced on May 10 that Boulder Community Health, a not-for-profit health system in Boulder, Colorado, physician assistant Christopher Kreider and nurse practitioner Bonnie Wilensky agreed to resolve allegations relating to improper opioid prescribing at the Mapleton Pain Clinic in Boulder. 

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Kreider and Wilensky allegedly wrote prescriptions for opioids in dosages, at frequencies and in combination with other substances outside the course of their professional practice. As a result, these prescriptions were not valid under state law and not covered by the Medicare Part D program. 

BCH owned the Mapleton Pain Clinic, a multi-disciplinary clinic treating patients with chronic pain that operated in Boulder that closed in March 2017. The U.S. alleges that, while employed at the Mapleton Pain Clinic, Kreider and Wilensky regularly wrote prescriptions for opioids at high dosages and in dangerous combinations with other controlled substances such as benzodiazepines and muscle relaxants, ignoring indications of patient substance use disorder, misuse and abuse of prescriptions and mental health issues. The U.S. also contends that BCH, by its ownership of the Mapleton Pain Clinic, failed to properly supervise its employees’ prescribing practices and implement appropriate controls to prevent the improper prescribing of addictive opioid medications and other controlled substances.

Per the agreement, BCH will pay $350,000. Kreider agreed to supervised practice for the next two years and to complete 60 hours of continuing education on the prescribing of controlled substances, addiction and alternatives to opioids for pain management. Wilensky has agreed not to prescribe any controlled substances for two years. 

“Medical professionals are required to follow proper professional practices when they prescribe opioids and other potentially dangerous drugs, and their employers are responsible for properly supervising those professionals,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan in the May 10 announcement. “When professionals violate the rules, our office will pursue them and their employers.”

“By improperly prescribing opioids, health care providers put the health and safety of their patients at risk and undermine critical measures to address the opioid epidemic,” said Curt Muller, special agent in charge with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General. “HHS-OIG will continue working with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who exploit patient addiction for personal gain.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office noted claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability. This case was handled by assistant U.S. attorneys Marcy Cook and Jessica Matthews.

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