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Rogers City nurse disciplined by state

ROGERS CITY — A family nurse practitioner who worked in Rogers City is on licensing probation for violating the Michigan Public Health Code after she wrote prescriptions for family members and lied to her employer about the situation, according to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

Amanda Allen signed a stipulation on July 31 admitting the facts in the case, according to recently released state documents.

In an interview with The News on Friday, however, Allen said she never lied and did nothing wrong. She said the case was brought by her former employer in retaliation for reporting wrongdoing at Thunder Bay Community Health and she only signed the stipulation to avoid a costly fight with the state.

The LARA records say Allen has no other disciplinary history over the 20 years she’s been licensed.

Allen was fired from Thunder Bay Community Health in October 2019. Paula Cohoon, the agency’s human resources director, declined to comment for this story.

It is not illegal for health care professionals to prescribe medication to family. The American Medical Association, however, advises against it because “the physician’s personal feelings may unduly influence his or her professional medical judgment, thereby interfering with the care being delivered.”

Among the Health Code violations Allen is accused of are “negligence or failure to exercise due care” and a lack of “propensity … to serve the public … in a fair, honest, and open manner.”

Allen said in a written statement provided to The News on Friday that she wrote valid prescriptions for two family members and the drugs were not misused or improperly administered.

“The patients that received the medications were the individuals that consumed the medication,” Allen wrote. “There is nothing illegal or improper with my prescribing medications to a family member. The issue that generated the complaint against me was that my former employer had a policy that prohibited a nurse practitioner from prescribing medications to a family member. I was unaware of the policy, but I was still fired. I have taken accountability for my actions.”

Thunder Bay Community Health in October 2019 received an electronic refill request from Rite Aid for clonazepam — a highly addictive drug typically used to treat anxiety disorders — prescribed to Allen’s relative, according to the LARA records. Allen was listed as the prescriber.

Allen denied writing the prescription and arranged three-way phone calls with her Thunder Bay Community Health managers and people who said they were from both Rite Aid and Community Mental Health. Those people said the relatives were Community Mental Health patients and that agency wrote the prescriptions.

However, when Thunder Bay Community Health management independently contacted Community Mental Health, that agency said the relative was never a patient there.

Allen told The News that her managers got it wrong. Her relative was a patient at Alcona Health Center, not Community Mental Health. She provided The News with an email from Alcona Health Center confirming the relative was a patient there, though that email does not say when the relative became a patient.

“All claims that I made any effort to conceal or mislead anyone regarding the prescriptions that I wrote are false,” Allen said in her written statement. “In fact, I informed my supervisor each time I wrote a prescription for a family member, and despite their continued knowledge, I was permitted to write these prescriptions. It was only after I raised valid concerns about a hostile work environment that I was made aware of the policy and action taken against me.”

LARA reviewed prescribing records and found Allen had prescribed clonazepam to the relative 12 times from August 2017 through October 2019, according to the state documents.

The investigator also found Allen prescribed clonazepam to a second relative twice in 2019 and another drug, phentermine, once in 2018, the complaint said. Phentermine, an appetite suppressant and stimulant often used for weight loss, is another controlled substance that can be abused, according to LARA.

As part of the LARA punishment, Allen was evaluated by Eni Smith, of the Farmington Hills-based Black Rock Recovery, who found Allen “to be psychologically and physically fit to safely perform medical duties as a nurse practitioner and found no evidence of any substance use disorder at the time of my assessment,” according to a copy of the evaluation Allen shared with The News.

Calls to Smith on Friday were not immediately returned.

Allen’s license is on probation for at least two years and as much as three years and she was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

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