CLEARFIELD – On Wednesday, Dr. Amer Khouri was acquitted of the crimes he was facing in relation to a drug case. Prior to that decision, an expert witness, as well as witnesses from the first day of trial took the stand.
Retired oncologist Dr. Carol Evans was certified as an expert in oncology, hematology and internal medicine. She testified that during her time at UPMC, Khouri would refer patients to her for treatment. She said she was familiar with his work, and that he was clear and informative about his patients.
She testified that cancer patients needed to be treated with both long-term and short-term pain medicines. She also stated that there is no maximum dose of narcotic medications for cancer patients.
“Patients tend to be undertreated for cancer pain,” said Evans. She indicated that the pain got worse as a patient’s disease progressed. As that happens, they need more medicine to deal with the pain.
Evans also stated it was not uncommon to change doses days apart. She stated that communication between a doctor and patient was important in dealing with the patient’s pain. She stated it was not uncommon for her to be on the phone with patients at various times of day.
Both defense attorney Jim Naddeo and prosecutor Patrick Leonard presented Evans with exhibits that were placed into evidence on the first day of trial. The exhibits were the prosecutions charts of numbers of Actiq prescribed to patients and as well as what days the prescriptions were filled. She indicated during direct examination by Naddoe that the charts simply showed pain medication prescriptions. When asked if Khouri was mis-prescribing or over-prescribing, she stated she could not conclude that without medical records to see what the patient’s situation was.
When Leonard presented her with the charts and asked about the dosing numbers, Evans called the charts garbage. She stated that without the medical records, no determination could be made as to whether over-prescribing occurred.
She also testified that, like Khouri, she would recycle unused pain medications for uninsured and underinsured patients. Evans also said this was against hospital policy where she worked.
After Evans’ testimony was finished and the defense closed their case, the commonwealth called rebuttal witnesses. Many of the people who testified on day one were called, including Alexis Brolin. He was called to testify about who Khouri said he was taking the returned medicine to. Khouri treated Brolin’s late wife, Nancy Brolin.
On Tuesday, Khouri denied telling caregivers and patients that he was taking recycled medicine to hospice patients. Brolin testified that Khouri told him that that he was taking them to hospice patients, the uninsured and patients who couldn’t get around, that those were Khouri’s words.
Bonnie Greene also testified that Khouri told her that he needed the Actiq for a hospice patient.
Others also called for rebuttal were Steve Briskar Jr., Jackie Starr, Jon Steen. and Agent Sherri Cramer.
To read about the jury’s decision, click here.