San Diego

South Bay Psychiatrist Accused Of Overprescribing Controlled Substances

In accusation, the Medical Board of California said Dr. Greg Paniccia’s license should be revoked or suspended

A South Bay psychiatrist, Dr. Greg Paniccia, is accused of gross negligence and overprescribing controlled substances to five patients, according to an accusation filed by the Medical Board of California.

The 41-page document also asks an administrative judge to revoke or suspend Paniccia’s license.

The accusation, filed in the administrative law court on May 1, alleges Paniccia prescribed narcotics, sedatives and other powerful drugs “...without an appropriate prior examination and medical indication,” and that “...he knew or reasonably should have known” that four of those five patients were drug addicts who would use those controlled substances “...for a non-medical purpose.”

The accusation notes that one patient, a 29-year-old woman identified as R.M., had a history of alcohol, methamphetamine and heroin abuse. According to the accusation, the Medical Board’s investigation revealed Paniccia did not document R.M.’s history of drug and alcohol abuse and prescribed two controlled substances (gabapentin and alprazolam) that are not “standard treatments” for the bipolar disorder for which R.M. sought treatment.

In the accusation, the Medical Board also alleges Paniccia gave R.M. a prescription for hydrocodone, a powerful, potentially addictive opioid, without documenting the prescription in R.M.’s file.

According to the accusation, “(Paniccia) repeatedly prescribed benzodiazepines to patient R.M. while she was pregnant without any informed consent, regarding the dangers associated with benzodiazepines…”

Paniccia declined to comment on the allegations, but in a brief email response to NBC 7 Investigates, Paniccia's attorney said "The charges are disputed." No hearings have been held on the Medical Board's accusation.

The California Attorney General’s office, which represents the Medical Board, also alleges Paniccia repeatedly failed to review the state’s controlled substance database before prescribing those controlled substances.

That database, known as “C.U.R.E.S.”, informs doctors if their patients are getting narcotics, sedatives and other dangerous drugs from other providers, and is a safeguard against “doctor shopping” and over-prescribing.

In seeking revocation or suspension of Paniccia’s license, the Medical Board complaint notes he was placed on probation is 2003 for improperly prescribing “excessive amounts of controlled substances” to a patient. According to medical board documents, in that case, Paniccia agreed to take prescribing and medical record-keeping courses. In addition, the Medical Board prohibited him from prescribing most controlled substances during his two-year probation.

The Medical Board’s website shows Paniccia completed the terms of his 2003 probation in 2005 and was allowed to resume his medical practice without restrictions.

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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