Monday, March 24, 2008

What Do We Do with the Drugged Out Veterinarian, Installment #2

Ah, what a temptation it must be to be able to access narcotics -- at the stroke of a pen. Or at least it would seem so, since it's a temptation so many vets seem unable to avoid. If the behavior only endangered the vet, I wouldn't be writing about it here. But you see -- you don't really want your pet under the scalpel of a vet under the influence, do you?

One such vet is California's Heather Kerr, who ingested such a staggering amount of narcotics (which she obtained under the guise of having a legitimate veterinary use, but then instead took herself!) over a period of 14 years while practising veterinary medicine that it can scarcely be believed.

In November of 2007 a "Decision and Order" went into affect based on a settlement Kerr entered into with the California Veterinary Board, which included a disciplinary order placing her on probation for 5 years. Oh, yeah, the board revoked her license but STAYED the revocation, which means they didn't REALLY revoke it -- she can keep right on practising. And in fact today I found the website, "Kerr Equine Services" -- marketing her "equine sports medicine and surgery." SURGERY?

Um, if you are going to be taking your horse to this woman, there are a few things you ought to know. And before you say -- "Aw, that was over six months ago, she's probably clean by now!" -- Just remember, this woman abused drugs repeatedly over the course of 14 years, do you really think she's clean now? Oh, yeah, she's supposed to be in a rehab program and is supposed to be submitting "biological fluid samples" -- but do you trust her operating on your horse?

Here is the deal: The causes for discipline cited were:


Kerr "purchased, possessed, and handled Oxycodone, under the guise that the narcotics would be prescribed, administered, or dispensed for a legitimate medical purpose in the course of professional practice . . . In 2002 [Kerr] purchased 14,000 tablets of Oxycodone . . . In 2003 [Kerr] purchased 13,000 tablets of Oxycodone . . In 2004 [Kerr] purchased 15,000 tablets of Oxycodone . . . In 2005 [Kerr] purchased 30,000 tablets of Oxycodone . . . In 2006 through April [the beginning of the year] [Kerr] purchased 5,000 tablets of Oxycodone."

"[Kerr] admittedly began diverting and self-administering 4 to 5 tablets of Oxycodone per day but gradually increased dosage so that by September 2006 she was taking 25 to 30 tablets per day."

Kerr "admittedly self-administered Demerol and Morphine on an irregular basis, during the time period between May 1992 and September 2006."

OK, so I looked up Oxycodone and APAP, and this combination is commonly known as Percocet. Could this woman possible take 25-30 percocet a day for so many years? Aside from the "admitted" drug abuse -- does anything else seem weird to you?

Let's do some math.

Kerr said she "gradually" worked up to 25 to 30 tablets of percocet per day.

This is quite unbelievable. But looking at the statistics for her orders 2002-2005, let's just say for the sake of argument that by 2002, she was already up to 25 per day.

25 times 365 days in the year is 9,125. She ordered 14,000 tablets that year. What happened to the nearly 5,000 she didn't gobble?

And at her height, she was supposed to be ingesting 30 of these per day. 30 times 365 is 10,950. Yet, in 2005, she ordered 30,000 of them. What happened to the 19,000 tablets she didn't gobble?

Is it even possible for someone to take 25-30 a day and survive? Apparently so -- there are people who have done it -- (see; but you would be really messed up and not in any shape to practice any kind of medicine!

But to consume 30,000 pills, she would have to take over 80 a day. And that's just not possible So -- I ask again -- what about the other 19,000 pills?

This Board document doesn't accuse her of selling, and I have no proof of that. But it sure seems fishy to me.

Academically speaking, according to, "The major source of oxycodone to the street has been through forged prescriptions, professional diversion through unscrupulous pharmacists, doctors, and dentists . . . " etc.

So hypothetically speaking of course, if a vet WERE selling this drug -- let's say, 19,000 tabs in a year -- how much black market income would that yield? According to that same article, oxycodone sells on the black market for about 50 cents to $1 per milligram. Let's split the difference at 75 cents. At 5 mgs a tablet, let's say, that's 3.75 each. 19,000 would be $71,250.

Now, I'm not accusing anyone of anything, and the reader is reminded that there is nothing in the state findings saying that Dr. Kerr ever did such a thing.

But it's all very interesting . . . that and the unnaccounted for, ungobbled 19,000 pills.

Back to the safety of our pets -- why would someone totally high on percocet NOT be someone you want operating on your pet?

Well, some people describe the feeling they get on this drug as "zoned out." If someone has ingested 30 of these babies in a day, it's a pretty good bet they don't have their wits about them to practice good medicine on you pet.