The Arkansas State Medical Board on Friday issued a $1,000 fine to the owner of a Little Rock "medical spa" after she admitted to signing blank prescriptions for a nurse to fill out and give to patients.
The board also revoked Anne Trussell's license for five years, but stayed the revocation, meaning she can continue to practice medicine.
The board's action came about two months after Trussell, owner of Sei Bella Med Spa, agreed to pay $20,000 to resolve a Drug Enforcement Administration accountability audit that resulted in indictments of her and the licensed practical nurse, Qusandra Joyce Siler, on charges of conspiring to distribute and dispense the weight loss drug Adipex without an effective prescription.
According to the federal indictment, Trussell signed her name on more than 75 blank prescription pads so that, in her absence, Siler could issue prescriptions to patients between August 2014 and February 2015.
Under Arkansas law, a licensed practical nurse may not assess, diagnose or plan care for patients and doesn't have the authority to issue prescriptions.
On Friday, Trussell told the medical board that she started signing the prescription pads after she briefly went to work at a nearby pain clinic.
Later, she said she spent time taking care of her ill father.
In the doctor's absence, Siler would use the prescription pads to refill patients' Adipex prescriptions after measuring their height and weight, taking their vital signs and calling Trussell for approval, Trussell said.
"She never did anything without asking me," Trussell said.
The prescriptions were mainly refills, she said, although a few were for patients Trussell had never seen before.
That happened, she said, when a new patient's appointment got "bumped up" to a time when Trussell was not at the business.
"It was never the intent for [Siler] to see new patients," Trussell said. "It was an accident."
In addition to help with weight loss, Sei Bella offers Botox injections, hormone therapy and other services, according to its website.
Trussell told the Medical Board that she didn't know if the prescription pads were numbered and that she wouldn't necessarily have known if one of the blank prescriptions went missing.
Under questioning by board member Omar Atiq, she acknowledged it would have been possible for the nurse to write a prescription for another drug, such as a narcotic painkiller.
"I should have never left the pre-signed prescriptions," Trussell said.
Atiq said Trussell's actions put patients at risk.
"I think there are several layers of disregard for what we have been ever taught," he said.