WICHITA — Stephen Schneider faced a fast-paced cross-examination from a federal prosecutor this morning about his practices of prescribing narcotics.
Schneider, on trial on 32 criminal counts, answered, "I don't know" or said he couldn't remember questions about patients, their charts and letters he wrote to the state licensing board for doctors.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway questioned Schneider in detail about one woman who died of an overdose. Schneider and his wife, Linda, are charged with contributing to the deaths of 68 patients over narcotics prescribed at their clinic.
Treadway quizzed Schneider about why he continued to increase the woman's painkillers even though she said they weren't working and complained of increased pain.
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"Well, she was worse because she'd run out of her medication," Schneider said.
At one point of her treatment, records showed the woman received 960 Lortabs in 91 days, about 10 a day. Schneider said that was too many.
"But I didn't know she was taking all those," Schneider said.
"She was running out of them," Treadway said, pointing to references in the charts that the patient needed more meds.
Schneider said he acknowledged that she could have been self-medicating and increasing her dosage on her own.
The charts showed she received more narcotics.
Treadway showed Schneider letters to the Kansas Board of Healing Arts acknowledging he knew patients were abusing drugs and even trading them in the waiting room of his clinic. Schneider said the letters contained his name but not his signature. He said he didn't remember writing them.
"Did you take any action at the clinic to determine the circumstances of the deaths of which you were notified?" Treadway asked.
Schneider said he didn't remember whether he did, and didn't know whether his wife did.
"How many sympathy cards did you send to families" of patients who died of drug overdoses, Treadway asked.
"I don't remember," Schneider said.
"How many funerals did you attend?" Treadway added.
"None," Schneider said.
Cross-examination is continuing throughout the morning.