Patient death leads to doctor losing medical license

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- He was the only son, the only brother and only 29 years old, but Gene Hun Wu's family believes a Valley doctor's reckless practice of medicine cost him his life.

Chin-Ying Kerbaugh can't help but get emotional remembering the last moments she had with her brother. Clutching his hand at this hospital she remembers, "Praying and hoping and just saying, 'Please come out of this, you know, please come out of this, you know, I need you, I need you in my life.'"

According to the autopsy report, Wu went into respiratory arrest on Jan. 6, 2010, which was caused by a multidrug intoxication that included oxycodone. Six months leading up to Wu's death, Arizona Medical Board records show Dr. Darryl J. Mohr had been prescribing him Soma and oxycodone for back pain.

Kerbaugh believes, "If he did not have that prescription, he would still be here with us. I truly, truly believe he would still be here with us."

Unfortunately, writing prescriptions is all Mohr did for Wu. Records show Mohr never checked Wu's pain history or reviewed other medications he was taking.

"Pain management is not writing a prescription," Kerbaugh said. "Pain management is getting down to the bottom of what the pain is."

The day before Wu died, Jan. 5, 2010, Medical Board records show he got a refill from Mohr.

Turns out Mohr's specialty is not pain management but rather family medicine.

"What we're seeing is a lot of physicians who are moving out of their original area of interest and into pain management," said Lisa Wynn, executive director for the Arizona Medical Board. "More people died of accidental drug overdoses than car crashes in Arizona so we have got to get our arms around what is causing people to die."

In addition to Wu, the Arizona Medical Board investigated Mohr regarding four other patients. The accusations included everything from prescribing high doses of opioids without adequate work-ups to overprescribing oxycodone.

But when Mohr appeared before the Arizona Medical Board to fight to keep his license, he admitted, "Basically I just wasn't aware of how complicated handling pain management patients was, it was sort of a work in progress, if you will."

"If that is his mindset, then he shouldn't have been in practice to begin with," Kerbaugh said.

Earlier this month, the Arizona Medical Board revoked Mohr's medical license despite his pleas.

"I've asked the board not to revoke my license and to just suspend me or reprimand me or whatever the board is going to do regarding pain management," he said.

The board responded with, "Do I hear any motion to reconsider? No. Thank you for appearing."

While Kerbaugh is pleased Mohr is no longer prescribing painkillers, she wants others to be aware of doctors overprescribing medication because now all she's left with are memories of what might have been.

"He didn't get a chance to get married," Kerbaugh said. "He didn't get a chance to buy a house to have children."

Mohr has until May 9 to appeal the Medical Board's ruling.

If you would like to file a complaint with the Arizona Medical Board, go to www.azmd.gov.