Monday, May 18, 2015

California Concierge Physician and Her Husband Arrested For Unlicensed Practice of Medicine and Conspiracy to Furnish Morphine After 88 Year Old Patient Dies at Her Home

Concierge medicine that involves Scheduled narcotics appears to be under greater scrutiny, especially where there are unlicensed people involved and bad medical results for elderly patients. 

Last week, Dr. Ellen Crowe (age 54) and her non-physician husband Paul McQuillan (age 61), were arrested and charged in Ventura County Superior Court with  felonies relating to the death last year of 88 year old Polly Duntley of after she was allegedly given morphine. An arrest contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant, including these, is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

The case involves a concierge medical practice that makes home visits called “House Call Visits Thousand Oaks” and is allegedly owned by Dr. Crowe and is operated by both she and her husband Mr. McQuillan. A May 15, 2015, Los Angeles Times article on this case  by Matt Hamilton details the allegations in the case.

This case was investigated by the Ventura County Interagency Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit and the State of California Medical Board. The Ventura County Interagency Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit is a task force made up of members of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Simi Valley Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation and the California Highway Patrol.

Dr. Crowe and Mr. McQuillan are a married couple who own and operate a business known as House Call Doctor Thousand Oaks (“House Call DTO”), and Ms. Duntley was a patient, said Sgt. Victor Fazio, of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.  The allegations are that on July 30, 2014, a physician (other than Dr. Crowe) from House Call DTO made a visit to Ms. Duntley’s home. Ms. Duntley  had her first appointment at her home with the medical practice and she was complaining of pain in her leg, Sgt. Fazio said. A physician other than Dr. Crowe saw her. This physician ordered x-ray and ultrasounds tests to be performed the next day.   

The next on July 31, 2014, Mr. McQuillan, who has no official medical training, responded to the home of Ms. Duntley in Camarillo on the follow-up visit,  authorities said.
Authorities allege that Mr. McQuillan injected Ms. Duntley with morphine provided by Dr. Crowe and ordered by the other doctor, making the injection just before X-ray and ultrasound tests were to take place at the residence. Ms. Duntley fell into a deep sleep within minutes, authorities said.

After the injection, Mr. McQuillan left the residence to treat another patient in the neighborhood, and in his absence, a technician from another company arrived to perform the ultrasound, authorities said. 

Mr. McQuillan returned while the ultrasound was being conducted, realized Ms. Duntley no longer had a pulse, called 911 and tried to provide first aid, authorities said. Emergency responders resuscitated Ms. Duntley, but she never regained consciousness. She died in a hospital on August 2.

Mr. McQuillan was arrested at his home and a search warrant was served there, authorities said. Dr. Crowe was located in Bakersfield and arrested as well.

Mr. McQuillan was booked into county jail on (1) suspicion of practicing medicine without a license and (2) furnishing morphine, authorities said. 

Dr. Crowe was booked on (1) suspicion of conspiracy to practice medicine without a license and (2) conspiracy to furnish morphine. They were released on bail and are scheduled to be arraigned in Ventura County Superior Court on May 27.

Practitioners need to ensure that they are fully compliant in home visits and concierge medicine. Patients with serious medical conditions may not be appropriate for home care and all steps should be taken to ensure that no unlicensed personnel engage in the unlicensed practice of nursing or medicine.

Posted by Tracy Green, Esq.


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