A Georgia psychiatrist was taken into police custody on Thursday after DEA agents raided his Jonesboro office. According to WSB-TV, the first new station to report the story, authorities raided the office of Dr. Narendra Nagareddy, a man law enforcement officials believe to be responsible for the deaths of at least 36 people.
Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson said the psychiatrist was arrested after autopsies performed on 12 of his deceased patients determined they'd all died after overdosing on prescription medication.
#DEADLYDOCTOR: A #psychiatrist is arrested after 36 patients dies https://t.co/atUL7jZWGK pic.twitter.com/J8PJSBNC42The raid on the psychiatrist's office was reportedly carried out by "40 federal and local agents." Authorities later went to Nagareddy's home, where additional materials were seized.
— WMC Action News 5 (@WMCActionNews5) January 16, 2016
Clayton County Police Chief Mike Register told WSB-TV that Dr. Narendra Nagareddy "has been over-prescribing opiates and benzodiazepine" for a period of about several years. Not only that, but the psychiatrist is also accused of "prescribing pain medication" outside of his authority as a psychiatrist that wasn't "for a legitimate purpose." As AL.com put it, the doctor was very likely running "a pill mill." CBS News reports the term is used by law enforcement to describe "a doctor, clinic or pharmacy that is prescribing or dispensing powerful narcotics inappropriately or for non-medical reasons."
"It is against federal law for a doctor to prescribe pain medication without a legitimate medical purpose or 'outside the usual course of medical practice.' If a prescription is deemed as not 'valid,' a doctor could be charged with 'drug trafficking.'"In addition to the dozens of patient deaths, there are former and current patients of Dr. Narendra Nagareddy that admitted that he often prescribed controlled substances for them despite a lack of medical need.
Mark Winne, an investigative reporter with WSB-TV, was present as Dr. Nagareddy was being taken into custody. He asked the medical official if he'd "prescribed more [medicine] than he was supposed to." The psychiatrist did not respond to questions.
Psychiatrist arrested after 36 of his patients died https://t.co/cCyAWEUyAB #cle19 pic.twitter.com/t3wy57uz38Register had plenty to say about the arrested medical professional, a man the police chief referred to as "Dr. Death."
— Cleveland 19 News (@cleveland19news) January 15, 2016
"People come to this person for help, and instead of getting help, they're met with deadly consequences,"said Register.
These "deadly consequences" are only getting worse with the rise of "pill mills" and the rise of prescription drug abuse. Some controlled substances prescribed by medical professionals run the risk of causing addiction. Yet many patients remain uneducated about the risks of addiction associated with certain prescribed medications.
Some people knowingly go to "pill mills" as a way to gain access to drugs specifically for abuse. Others naively take pills given to them by psychiatrists like Dr. Nagareddy, not knowing these careless and greedy doctors are putting their lives in jeopardy.
Since his arrest, former and current patients have expressed their shock and horror on the internet. Al.com reported that one woman, a patient of the psychiatrist since age 17, said she was thankful to God for keeping herself and her father safe during the nine years they went to him for treatment.
"I am truly shocked that someone would kill innocent people just to make money. I pray for God to be with the victims families, and for everyone affected by this horrible tragedy and betrayal of trust."Perhaps the most startling aspect of this case is that despite dozens of deaths associated with this Georgia psychiatrist, he apparently enjoyed a spotless reputation. WGCL-TV/WAFB reports that a look into the psychiatrist's background revealed something baffling. After contacting the State Board of Medical Examiners, the station found there were no previous complaints or disciplinary actions against Dr. Narendra Nagareddy before his arrest.
Carefully consider that for a moment. At least 36 people in the care of this one psychiatrist died, and there wasn't a single medical malpractice suit or medical settlement tied to his name. As shocking as this is, this fact is very likely to change in the immediately future: The district attorney's office just filed a RICO civil action to seize the disgraced doctor's assets.
A video of this disturbing situation can be viewed below.
[Image via Clayton County District Attorney's Office]