The Medical Board of California has placed the license of a Santa Ana doctor accused of prescribing dangerous drugs without a medical reason on probation for eight years.
Meanwhile, a Superior Court judge quashed the medical board's attempt to discipline a former Irvine doctor who was found passed out in the driver's seat of a cart at a local golf course with a handgun at his feet and four baggies of cocaine in his backpack.
Dr. Kent Lehman, who specializes in family medicine, is accused by the board of gross negligence, prescribing without a proper physical exam and inadequate record keeping. He allegedly prescribed high doses of opiates to 20 patients without properly examining them.
Lehman was actually the subject of a sting operation in 2013 that had a board investigator posing as a patient with ankle pain. Video evidence shows the physician prescribed her Vicodin without ever examining her, but her chart indicates he did see her, according to the board, which adds he later prescribed her more Vicodin even though she ignored his direction to get an x-ray of that ankle.
He also continued prescribing OxyContin to a patient even though Lehman was told the addict was receiving controlled substances from multiple doctors and pharmacies, according to the board.
Lehman, who reached a settlement with the board that prevents him from prescribing certain controlled substances during his probation, previously had his license placed on five years probation for excessively prescribing powerful weight loss drugs to patients who didn’t need them. Board records also show his license was suspended for a year in 1992 over fraudulent billing to insurance companies.
Dr. Brandon J. Erdle used to be a dermatologist based in Irvine.
The Medical Board of California placed his license in the discipline pile because doctors found to have abused drugs are subject to state statutes regarding unprofessional conduct.
However, since Erdle's arrest in September 2013 and subsequent charges brought by the Orange County District Attorney's office, he successfully completed a court-ordered substance abuse rehabilitation program.
For that, his criminal record was wiped clean and the charges were dismissed. However, he still had the looming medical board disciplinary process hanging over his head.
Here is why: On Sept. 27, 2013, he held a party in a Westwood hotel room, where some guests appeared to be snorting coke—based on the straws and white powdery substance observed in the unit, according to the medical board.
As Erdle packed up the next day to head back to Irvine, he found someone had left behind four baggies filled with white powder, which he placed in his brother’s messenger bag that he took with him back to Orange County, according to the board, which was told the doctor planned to dispose of the baggie contents at a medical facility.
Instead of first stopping off at home and dumping the bag with the baggies there, Erdle drove to Oak Creek Golf Course in Irvine, where he played a round with a friend and together they downed some alcohol, board documents show.
That afternoon, Irvine Police Officer Kyle Tanabe was called to the golf course, where he and three other officers found Erdle “passed out” on the fairway of the ninth hole. The doctor was in the driver’s seat of the cart with his head slumped down—and the butt of the gun could be seen near his feet, according to the board.
The spectacle prompted the cart search that produced the baggies, which were later determined to hold cocaine. The OCDA later charged Erdle with possession and public intoxication.
Erdle moved to New York in December 2013. But back in California, in March 2015, he was ordered to complete a drug treatment program. Successful completion (and, presumably, no more hijinx on the links) would open the possibility to a January 2016 court hearing where prior criminal counts, pleas and judgments could be vacated.
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That’s exactly what happened.
On Oct. 19, Judge Harold Kahn ordered the medical board case against Erdle be stayed on the grounds that the cocaine evidence could not be used against the doctor because it was, well, blown away when the criminal case was dismissed.
The board signed off on the agreement three days later.
Erdle now practices as a dermatology specialist in Smithtown, New York.