A doctor who worked at the North Texas Medical Center Specialty Clinic has had his medical license temporarily suspended after hospital staff reportedly found him unresponsive.
On June 16, a disciplinary panel of the Texas Medical Board temporarily suspended, without notice, the Texas medical license of Robert Mathew Hein after determining his continuation in the practice of medicine poses “a continuing threat to public welfare,” a press release issued this week by the TMB states. The suspension was effective immediately.
Hein, who specialized in pain management at NTMC’s facility at 2024 W. U.S. 82, was suspected by his employer in April of treating patients while under the influence of controlled substances not legitimately prescribed to him, officials said.
“Dr. Hein appeared to be diverting medications from patients for his personal use and currently suffers from a likely impairment that makes him a threat to patient or public safety,” the release says.
On or about April 17, at around 1:45 p.m., Hein was found unresponsive which required hospital staff to perform CPR, according to Hein’s Order of Temporary Suspension.
The order states paramedics were in the process of intubating Hein when he finally responded and refused further treatment. “He was observed to be slurring his words,” the order states.
Hein was tested for drugs following the incident and identified three drugs — a self-prescribed opioid and two pain medications from the clinic’s advanced nurse practitioner — which would be found in his system. A urinalysis was returned negative for all three of the substances Hein reportedly identified. However, the order states that the urine drug screening did reveal the presence of one non-disclosed benzodiazepine and three non-disclosed opioid medications.
A follow-up investigation revealed that there was no documentation for the prescriptions Hein claimed were written by the APN. It was determined that the medications were called in for Hein by medical assistants working in the clinic, information from the TMB shows.
The hospital clinic’s investigation also found a locked desk drawer with empty medication tubes, a box of opened medication and empty used syringes during a search of Hein’s office.
“A follow up review determined that of 60 charts reviewed, 80% had deviations in the amount of medication ordered versus what was administered to the patient, with no wastage noted,” the order states. “The medications involved included Dilaudid, Fentanyl and Hydromorphone.”
Since Hein has stopped working for NTMC, he has continued to try to prescribe controlled substances using the prescription forms from the clinic at various pharmacies in the Gainesville area, officials claim.
Texas Board of Pharmacy records for Hein indicate that the only two prescriptions provided to him were from June 2019. Those were the Tramadol and Tylenol prescriptions he self-identified, but that were not found in his UDS. There were no prescription records for the drugs found in his urinalysis, records show.
In early May, the Register inquired about Hein with hospital spokeswoman Kristi Rigbsy after the paper learned Hein’s patients had appointments abruptly canceled on them.
At the time, Rigsby sent a press release on hospital clinic’s letterhead stating “Due to a circumstance that is not related to COVID-19, Dr. Robert Hein, pain management physician at the NTMC Specialty Clinic, is currently not available to see patients. At this time we do not have an established timetable for his return to the clinic.”
The release from NTMC also directed patients of his to contact the specialty clinic.
Rigsby did not answer whether or when the hospital severed ties with Hein.
In response to further questions regarding Hein, Rigsby said in an email Friday, June 19, that “NTMC respects the privacy of Dr. Robert Hein and will not discuss any details relating to his personal situation.”
It is unclear how long Hein worked for NTMC. A representative with the TMB said the agency would not be able to verify a physician’s employment history dates other than confirming their current registration address.
A temporary suspension hearing with notice will take place as soon as practicable with 10 days’ notice to Hein, officials said. As of Friday afternoon, no hearing had been scheduled. The temporary suspension remains in place until the board takes further action.
“The physician also has the option to waive that hearing and request an Informal Settlement Conference at a later date, which is a confidential hearing,” said Jarrett Schneider, a TMB spokesperson. “Because an ISC is a confidential hearing, we would not be able to confirm if one is scheduled. If the physician were to request a TS with notice hearing, that would be a public meeting and notice would be published with [the] secretary of state.”
Hein has held a full medical license since April 2007, according to the TMB.
This isn’t his first negative run-in with the board.
In February 2006, Hein entered into an agreed order with the board to work 10 hours of community service for a nonprofit charitable organization based on an arrest and conviction for driving while intoxicated.
He had self-reported a DWI in 2003. He completed all legal board requirements, the TMB website shows. At the time of the DWI, he held a physician in training permit.
Inquiries with the Gainesville Police Department and Cooke County Sheriff’s Office did not return any record of Hein in their databases.