San Diego

Medical Board Alleges East County Psychiatrist Negligently Prescribed Controlled Substances to Addicts

Dr. Harry Henderson III gave at least one patient a dangerous drug combination known as the "holy trinity", according to the accusation

The Medical Board of California wants to revoke the license of an East County doctor who allegedly wrote hundreds of controlled-substance prescriptions for drug-addicted patients, without proper examinations and medical need.

In a detailed, 94-page document filed on June 29, the Medical Board accused Dr. Harry Henderson III of gross negligence, repeated acts of clearly excessive prescribing, failure to maintain adequate and accurate medical records, and other licensing violations.

The accusation alleges Henderson has a history of negligence involving six patients over the past seven years.

Medical Board investigators said Henderson failed to get medical records, information, or test results for a 27-year-old female patient whom Henderson first treated in 2012. Investigators said Henderson’s treatment notes are “...illegible and incomplete, lack adequate detail, and fail to provide a clear rationale for any medical decisions.”

According to the accusation, Henderson allegedly gave that patient dozens of prescriptions for thousands of pills, including amphetamines, sedatives, narcotic painkillers and other controlled substances.

The Medical Board documents reveal the agency based its investigation on an anonymous tip from a health provider who treats inmates and the homeless. That provider complained of seeing “again and again, inmates who are on high doses of (anti-anxiety medications) during active substance abuse use, also being prescribed pain medications by Dr. Harry Henderson...I have great concern that he is known by the inmates as someone who will ‘give them what they want.’”

Investigators also allege Henderson failed to routinely check the state’s prescription drug database, which helps doctors identify drug-abusing patients. He is also accused of ignoring “ of misuse, abuse and/or diversion of controlled substances” by that young female patient.

The Medical Board is accusing Henderson of similar negligence in his treatment of a 52-year-old male, who also obtained dozens of prescriptions for amphetamines, narcotic pain relievers, and sedatives.

Investigators said Henderson ignored warnings from a physician’s assistant who expressed concerns about that patient’s truthfulness and apparent drug abuse. The physician’s assistant cautioned the patient was “... highly predisposed to [the] negative outcomes of addiction and death.” According to investigators, Henderson continued to supply that patient with powerful narcotics, including Fentanyl and Oxycodone, despite that warning.

The accusation states Henderson recorded just one office visit with the patient during 2016, but that billing records obtained by investigators indicate the doctor billed insurance companies for 11 visits that year and gave that patient prescriptions for approximately 4,000 controlled-substance pills.

Dr. Henderson has not returned messages left by NBC 7 Investigates at his La Mesa office. A response to the accusation has also not been filed.

Another allegation involves a 56-year-old female patient who Henderson first treated in 2010. According to the accusation, Henderson negligently prescribed several medications, including Xanax (an anti-anxiety medication), hydrocodone (a narcotic pain reliever) and Soma (a muscle relaxer). The accusation states those three drugs, taken together, are a powerful and dangerous combination “sought out by those who abuse controlled substances, known as the “Houston cocktail,” “trio” and/or “the holy trinity.”

In addition to revoking or suspending Henderson’s license, the Medical Board wants the administrative law court to strip Henderson of his authority to supervise physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

NBC 7 Investigates is reporting on medical professionals accused by the public and the California Medical Board of wrongdoing in order to bring information to the public and increase transparency of medical practices in the San Diego region. Currently, this information is reported by the Medical Board on its website. Medical professionals are not required to disclose this information to their patients.

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