He wrote prescriptions for painkillers for patients without a medical need.
A guilty plea to health care fraud was entered Wednesday in US District Court in Baltimore by a former Frederick pediatrician. Dr. Nicola Tauraso ,81, admitted that he set up a pain management practice in 2009, and wrote prescriptions for opioids without determining a patient’s need for these medications.
“The facts of this case are that Dr. Tauraso acknowledged that while he was practicing as a pediatrician, he began a pain management practice in Frederick, in which he saw an excessive number of patients and wrote prescriptions of Oxycodone in cases in which there was no medical justifications for those prescriptions,” says Rod Rosenstein, US Attorney for Maryland.
Federal officials say Dr. Tauraso wrote 6,368 prescriptions with one pharmacy from 2009 to 2010, and Oxycodone accounted for a majority of those prescriptions.
Also, Rosenstein says, Dr. Tauraso made $251,673 from the beginning of 2010 through May of that year. He also deposited $821,358 in cash into his bank account in 2010, including about $575,000 which was transferred to a bank account he had in Panama.
In many of these cases, where physicians over prescribed opioids, Rosenstein says patients often end up as addicts. “A significant amount of our current opioid drug problem is fueled, and in many cases created, by doctors and medical professionals who are prescribing opioid drugs to many patients who do not need them,” he says.
“There are so many people in our area who have become addicted to opioid drugs through prescription medications: through prescriptions either they receive directly from a doctor when they don’t need them, or there are many cases where people buy prescriptions from people who’ve gotten them from doctors and pharmacies through unwarranted prescriptions,” he says.
Federal prosecutors say patients often traveled from outside of Frederick County, places such as Dundalk, Prince George’s County, Pasadena and out of Maryland, to get prescription medications from Dr. Tauraso.
The Maryland State Board of Physicians revoked Dr. Tauraso’s medical license in June, 2011, after finding he prescribed Oxycondone and other drugs to 17 patients without taking sufficient medical history, or performing physical or other tests.
Dr. Tauraso was indicted in 2014, and was arrested last July at Dulles Airport as he was returning from Panama.
He admitted in his plea agreement that he billed Medicare and Medicaid for $350,000 for fraudulent prescriptions.
Dr. Tauraso has agreed to forfeit the money is his Panamanian bank account, which totals $100,000.
Sentencing is scheduled for August 8th before US District Judge Marvin Garbis. He could face up to 10 years in prison.