Ocean County Doctor Banned From Writing Prescriptions, For Now

Photo by Jason Allentoff

TOMS RIVER – A Toms River physician has been barred from prescribing all controlled dangerous substances to patients under his care until further notice, the state medical board has ruled.

  The board said that the attorney general’s office called this physician’s continued practice of medicine a “clear and imminent danger to the public health, safety and welfare.” a 

  An investigation revealed that Bruce Coplin, M.D., a physiatrist with an office on Hospital Drive in Toms River, was found to have prescribed opioids to patients, even after one told him she sold some of those pills to pay her rent.

  The complaint, filed Aug. 22 with the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners, says the attorney general alleges Coplin practiced “gross negligence and indiscriminate prescribing” when treating eight particular “pain management” patients. Ends up, one of those patients was an undercover investigator, and another, a confidential informant. They both secretly video recorded their office visits.

  “We unanimously conclude that the Attorney General has palpably demonstrated that Dr. Coplin’s continued, unrestricted practice of medicine would present clear and imminent danger to the public,” the board’s filing stated.

  Coplin was being investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and NJ Enforcement Bureau of the Division of Consumer Affairs. Ten total videos were made between June 13 and Nov. 20, 2017.

File Photo

  The board said those videos show Coplin prescribing opioids at all monthly visits, with conducting any physical exams. Follow-up visits lasted less than two minutes. He increased the quantity of opioids prescribed in one case, simply based on subjective statements or requests for more pills. 

  The one undercover investigator was able to get more pills, even though she said she had no pain at the time of her visit. 

  “…In two instances, Dr. Coplin blithely ignored direct statements made to him by the undercover investigators that revealed that the “patients” had engaged in diversion of pills,” the report said. “Specifically, Dr. Coplin did nothing to address a statement made to him by R.C., during her visit on October 11, 2017, that she had sold some of her pills for rent money, and similarly did nothing to address a statement made to him by C.H., during his office visit on September 25, 2017, that he had to return some pills that he had previously ‘borrowed.’”

  For the other six patients, all treated by Coplin long term for acute pain, medical records show he did little more than write prescriptions at each visit. No long-term treatment plans were made.

  The filing offered other details that the board ultimately decided Coplin continuing to write prescriptions at this time would enable the doctor to continue “careless and reckless conduct when prescribing Controlled Dangerous Substances” to his patients.

  The filing shows Coplin made some changes to his practice once he realized he was under federal investigation. 

  The board did acknowledge Coplin has no prior disciplinary history. He did take appropriate steps with patients, such as having patients execute a pain management agreement, submit to urine tests, ordered imaging studies, etc. Coplin also did discharge two patients in August 2017 based on their “drug diverting behaviors.”

  The order does not shut down Coplin’s practice. He was to make arrangements for patients to get the prescriptions they need while a full investigation is underway. 

  The temporary prohibition is in effect until further notice.