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Medical board reprimands Charleston doctor

Read the consent order here.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston physician's license is on probation after the West Virginia Board of Medicine found evidence she prescribed what the board considered an excess amount of controlled substances.

Dr. Susan Cavender, a family physician with CAMC Health System, is on probation for the next two years, according to a March 8 consent order filed by the board. The board officially revoked Cavender's license, then stayed the revocation.

According to the filing, Detective C.A. Cook of the South Charleston Police Department was searching an apartment in Cross Lanes when he found medications that Cavender had prescribed throughout the home that were "obviously being abused." The detective wrote a complaint letter to the Board of Medicine last December.

In the span of less than two months in 2006, Cavender had prescribed the patient in question more than 500 pills including Lortab, Tylox, Vicodin and OxyContin, according to a report from the state Board of Pharmacy, the detective wrote.

Cavender said Thursday morning that she had practiced medicine for more than 25 years, and called the board's ruling unfair.

"It's an unfair situation that I was caught in," she said.

In 1999, the Board of Medicine publicly reprimanded Cavender for writing prescriptions for controlled substances for her husband, David McCuskey. A review of pharmacy records showed that between January 1998 and May 1999, Cavender wrote her husband 85 prescriptions for schedule III substances for a total of around 6,500 pills, according to a consent order on file with the medical board.

In 2001, the state Attorney General's Office sued McCuskey, who ran a St. Albans hearing clinic. Several customers complained that their hearing aids did not work. A judge ordered McCuskey to refund more than $200,000 to customers, according to Gazette reports at the time. 

During that trial in Kanawha Circuit Court, Cavender testified that she reviewed records for customers being fitted for new hearing aids, though she did not have written permission to do so. Also during the trial, some patients testified McCuskey recommended hearing aids for them even though doctors told them they didn't need them. McCuskey was a hearing aid dealer, not a physician, according to Gazette reports.

As a part of her current probation, Cavender will be required to take a continuing education course in medical record-keeping, another continuing education course in controlled substance prescribing and pain management, to read a book about responsible opioid prescribing, and to keep adequate patient medical records and charts.

The Board of Medicine could revoke Cavender's medical license if she fails to comply with the consent order.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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