Kentucky Physician Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison After Illegal Opioid Prescriptions Lead to Numerous Patient Overdose Deaths

Dr. Michael Lee Cummings, of Albany Kentucky, was sentenced to 30 months in prison, as well as three years of supervised release and a $400,000 fine after pleading guilty to 13 counts of illegally prescribing controlled substances. The investigation of Cummings began in 2015 after it was found that many of his patients had died in overdose-related deaths.

Cummings ran a family practice in Albany, Kentucky for several years. Yet, from 2009 to 2014, Cummings was the in the top 1% of primary care prescribers of opioids in all of Kentucky. These opioids primarily included Oxycodone, hydrocodone, and benzodiazepines. Throughout these years, Cumming prescribed hundreds of thousands of opioids without a legitimate medical purpose. According to the Department of Justice, Cummings prescribed enough opioids in one year alone to provide every man, woman, and child in Albany with 230 hydrocodone pills, 134 Oxycodone pills, and 178 benzodiazepine pills.

In 2015, a Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure expert discovered that many of Cumming’s patients were being treated below an acceptable standard of care. That same year, the Clinton County Coroner found that many of the individuals who suffered overdose deaths were former patients of Cummings.

During the investigation, several medical experts reviewed Cummings’ patient treatment plans and found a number of concerning practices. The review showed that Cummings had excessively prescribed opioids without an appropriate medical purpose. Cummings had also ignored KASPER reports detailing suspicions of drug abuse, as well as the failed urine and pill count tests of his patients. Several of the defendant’s patients were prescribed opioids and benzodiazepines for multiple years, despite the fact that no signs of improvement were found. Patients were also prescribed combinations of drugs that were well-known in the medical community for being dangerous and resulting in a higher risk of overdose.

On one occasion, Cummings was informed that one of his patients was selling his Oxycodone prescription and other medications, but Cummings continued to refill the patient’s prescriptions. A few months later, Cummings even doubled the patient’s prescription for Oxycodone and added a prescription for Xanax.

Cummings was sentenced on July, 24th, 2019, to 30 months of prison and a $400,000 fine. He was also ordered to pay for the cost of his incarceration and will face three years of supervised release after his prison sentence.