MADISON, Ala. – A north Alabama pain clinic has closed its doors, some patients said without warning, leaving them without care. And for some, without their medical records.
North Alabama Pain Center has two offices in the Tennessee Valley, one in Madison, the other in Decatur, both locations are now closed.
A patient told us a non-working phone number was posted at the Madison address. We tried calling all of the center’s locations, but no one answered.
Finally, it took driving out to Decatur to determine that you can pick up medical records from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at that location.
Doctor Mark Murphy runs the North Alabama Pain Clinic, and he told his patients he would be retiring at the end of 2016, but that a new doctor was taking over the clinics. Dr. Murphy told patients that everything from the staff, to how the clinic operated would remain the same.
WHNT News 19 has learned those negotiations fell through, and now the clinic will indeed close permanently.
With all the questions surrounding the clinic, we decided to do a little digging on Doctor Murphy himself.
Lisa Boyer was struck by a drunk driver a few years ago. Ever since, she`s relied on strong medication to keep her pain in check. Boyer said she has received “8 back surgeries, 2 neck surgeries.”
“I showed up yesterday, and I had no doctor.” Boyer learned her doctor had left town and she only had a two day supply of her medication left.
“I’m livid, I’m angry. Why do you do this?” Boyer asked.
She knew Doctor Murphy was retiring, she was told so at her last appointment in December. But, she was also told that he clinic would stay open under new management.
Lisa Boyer had an appointment scheduled for Wednesday in Madison, only to find the doors locked and little explanation.
“There was nobody there but a sign on the door with an invalid phone number to get my records,” said Boyer.
No pain management group will take her on as a patient without her medical records, so she reached out to WHNT News 19.
We began calling every number we could find for Doctor Murphy. Each call was the same as the last… no answer and a full inbox. So, we decided to just drive out there.
It turns out the sign that Lisa Boyer found was covered with a new one that told people to go to the Decatur office to get their records.
“Had you not gone there and seen a new sign they must have put up sometime between yesterday and today to see you can go there, I would have never known,” said Boyer. “I had no reason to go back there.”
And that lack of communication is probably the biggest problem. “What is he running from that he just packs up and goes?” Boyer wondered.
It turns out Dr. Murphy isn’t actually retiring at all. He’s got another practice in Lewisburg Tennessee.
We found out that Dr. Murphy has a complaint filed against him by the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners with a hearing set for this March and that Murphy didn’t renew his medical license at the end of 2016.
We also discovered that according to Pro Publica, a nonprofit newsroom that focuses on investigations, the number of prescriptions through Medicare Part D show that Dr. Murphy is the number one prescriber in the nation for Oxycodone HCL. He is number four in the country for Hydrocodone, and ranks in the top 10 for many other drugs.
All of this was a surprise to Lisa Boyer, who said she is “Near tears, I am so angry.”
Because this kind of pain and betrayal doesn’t go away with a prescription.
“You don’t do this to people, you don’t just walk away and bail.”
Dr. Murphy also let his medical license expire here in the state of Alabama, meaning the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners will no longer have the jurisdiction to punish him.
However, he is still practicing in Tennessee so any complaints can be filed up in the Volunteer State.
As for Lisa Boyer, she told us she’ll go to Decatur first thing in the morning to obtain her records, so that she can get that new prescription before her current dosage runs out.
WHNT News 19 is going to see this story through to the end and will bring you any updates that we uncover.