CASE UPDATE: Adams County Doctor Charged with Treating Patients While Under the Influence of Cocaine

February 7, 2018 | Topic: Opioids

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced today that, following her recent arrest, a doctor in South Central Pennsylvania is facing felony charges of neglecting her patients while she was using cocaine and fentanyl – sometimes at her medical office.

Rita Harrison, M.D., 60, of Pine Groove, Biglerville, is charged with violations of the controlled substance act, a felony. Harrison failed to appear for scheduled appointments, knowingly permitted unlicensed staff to prescribe controlled substances in her absence, illegally pre-signed prescriptions, failed to keep proper medical records and was under the influence of illegal drugs while she was treating patients. She also prescribed drugs to patients who later sold the narcotics for money.

“This doctor’s conduct not only violated the Hippocratic oath, it flouted every standard of common sense decency and professionalism,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Not only did she cancel appointments for patients who needed medication to treat their addictions – she was using illegal drugs herself – at her office. Because of her misconduct, one of her patients was hospitalized for withdrawal symptoms. We will hold this medical professional accountable for her crimes.”

A statewide investigating grand jury learned from Harrison’s staff that they believed the doctor ingested drugs while at the office and arrived at the office under the influence of drugs. Harrison admitted to the staff member that she was taking Klonopin and Percocet and that her husband was injecting her with cocaine. Staff once found a Fentanyl patch on Harrison while she was in the office seeing patients.

Many of the incidents occurred between October 2015 and July 2016, while Harrison was employed at Battlewound Healthcare in Gettysburg. Battlewound Healthcare closed its doors in July 2016.

Harrison is being prosecuted by Director of Diversion Robert Smulktis.

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