A Tennessee doctor is facing up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges of over-prescribing opioids this week. Dr. Darrell Rinehart, who operated a medical clinic in Columbia, Tennessee before relocating to Indianapolis, Indiana, pleaded guilty in federal court on Monday, according to a release from the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, Don Cochran.
Rinehart pleaded guilty to one charge of unlawful distribution of controlled substances. He admitted that in 2016 he had knowingly distributed hydrocodone to a patient who did not have a significant underlying health issue justifying such a prescription. Rinehart also admitted that he had distributed opioids to four other patients without medical necessity and outside of normal medical practice 18 times between 2014 and 2015.
In March, Rinehart was indicted on 19 counts of illegal distribution of a controlled substance after five of his patients died of fatal opioid overdoses within one year’s time. At least six more of his patients experienced a nonfatal overdose between 2014 and 2016.
When asked to explain his actions, Rinehart told the state medical board that he was unfamiliar with safe prescribing laws and had put too much trust in