Victoria's Drive Thru Doc indicted
Aug. 25, 2014 at 5 p.m.
A drive-thru doctor who was the subject of a Victoria Advocate investigation now faces criminal charges.
Dr. Courtney Ricardo Morgan, 43, was indicted last week on a charge of prescribing a majority of his patients pain medication.
Although he is a licensed to practice medicine in Texas, Morgan's Drive Thru Doc, which opened in a small building on West Rio Grande Street in January 2013, was not a licensed pain management clinic, according to the indictment.
If more than half of a doctor's patients are prescribed pain medication, a physician must license the clinic as a pain management clinic, according to a portion of the Texas Occupations Code.
Morgan did not do so, Criminal District Attorney Stephen Tyler said Monday.
In March 2013, a majority of his patients there and at his other office on Hospital Drive received prescriptions for opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates and carisoprodol, according to the indictment.
The businesses have since closed at both locations, and it is unclear where Morgan now practices medicine.
Tyler said he did not know if the rug Enforcement Agency and the Department of Public Safety launched its investigation as a result of the Advocate's investigative report.
The Victoria Advocate published itsinvestigative report about Drive Thru Doc in June 2013.
The article examined whether Morgan could legally prescribe medication to his Drive Thru Doc patients without seeing them, which he was accused of doing.
When interviewed for that story, Morgan told the Advocate that he did not prescribe narcotics at Drive Thru Doc.
Both the physician and the state are required to maintain a record whenever someone is prescribed a controlled substance.
Law enforcement simply requested those documents and reviewed them to find the violation, Tyler said.
Morgan could lose his license if convicted of the third-degree felony, according to another portion of the Texas Occupations Code.
The district attorney said he also thought the concerns raised in the Advocate article were legitimate.
A video attached to the story that showed an Advocate reporter receiving a drive-thru prescription for sinus medication after speaking with Morgan only over the phone was "compelling" and showed a "peculiar way to prescribe medication," Tyler said.
"You can make the argument that he's not actually practicing medicine if he's conducting his practice that way, but I'm just going to go with the cleaner charge, which is what's in the indictment. They didn't have the license to have a pain management clinic, not that it (the clinic) was a sham," Tyler said.
A judge issued an arrest warrant for Morgan and set a $10,000 surety bond for his case, according to the district clerk's office.
He had not been arrested as of Monday afternoon and did not return calls for comment.
Morgan's attorney, Erica Chaplin, instructed the Advocate not to seek out her client and offered no comment about the indictment.
A representative of the Drug Enforcement agency and of the Texas Medical Board could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
Tyler said the statute Morgan is being prosecuted under is one of several checks and balances legislators have created for specialized professions.
"I think legislators were fearful that some people's practices would become nothing more than a pill mill, where their medical license would be to medicate, and a certain clientele would gravitate there not for treatment but for a prescription, and the prescription would not be for a malady but an addiction," he said.
Dr. John McNeill, who operates five walk-in clinics, said if one of his patients had an acute injury, such as a broken arm, the clinic would prescribe pain medication.
If the patient asked for a refill later, however, he or she would be referred to Ladner Clinic, which is a licensed pain management clinic.
McNeill, whose clinics are in in Victoria, Beeville, Port Lavaca and Rockport, said he was wary of Drive Thru Doc because there was no physician-patient relationship.
"To let someone with no medical training attempt to make a diagnosis is dangerous and irresponsible," he said.
As the area's population grows, so too will the need for quality health care providers, McNeill said.
"Everything we do is based on risk and benefit," he said. "The benefit of getting in and out quickly like he advertised does not outweigh the risks."
Morgan earned his full medical license in November 2007.
He graduated in 2001 from Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, according to a Texas Medical Board database.