HARRISBURG, Pa. - A 45-year-old Schuylkill County doctor has been charged with prescribing "significant quantities" of controlled substances to drug-dependent patients that led to multiple overdoses, including one death.
She also is accused of dispensing the drugs to herself.
A statewide investigating grand jury recommended criminal charges against Dr. Stephanie Tarapchak of Ashland, a doctor of osteopathic medicine who specializes in internal medicine.
The doctor's arrest was announced Friday by state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane.
According to the grand jury, between January 2008 and August 2011 Tarapchak unlawfully prescribed and dispensed thousands of schedule II controlled substances, including the highly-addictive drugs oxycodone and hydrocodone.
Investigators found that in addition to prescribing medication to drug dependent patients, Tarapchak ordered excessive amounts of controlled substances from a wholesale supplier, including phentermine (a schedule IV diet pill), injectable Midazolam (a schedule IV sedative), testosterone, diazepam (generic form of Valium), and diphenhydramine (a generic Benadryl).
Further investigation into Dr. Tarapchak's prescribing practices uncovered that she was allegedly prescribing the drugs to patients and family without performing any type of physical examination.
She also allegedly dispensed drugs to herself, patients and family members from office supplies and it is also alleged that she smuggled controlled substances into the Lackawanna County Prison.
According to the grand jury, in June 2011, one of Tarapchak's patients --a 52-year-old male--died from a prescription overdose, four days after being prescribed excessive amounts of oxycodone. A toxicology report following the death revealed the presence of oxycodone and other drugs, the same categories of drugs that had been prescribed by Tarapchak.
The grand jury found that in order to supply her drug addiction, Tarapchak fraudulently billed insurance companies for patient visits and procedures that were never performed and split the payments with her staff and patients.
Tarapchak is charged with one count of corrupt organizations, one count of drug delivery resulting in death, one count of prescribing outside the scope of practice, one count of distribution/prescription to a drug dependent person, one count of refusal or failure to keep records, one count of controlled substance contraband to confined persons, one count of perjury, one count of endangering the welfare of children, one count of recklessly endangering another person, one count of insurance fraud, one count of theft by deception and one count of criminal conspiracy.
Her state license to practice medicine was suspended in March 2012.
Tarapchak was arraigned and placed in the Lackawanna County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bail.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday in Lackawanna County Central Court.
The case will be prosecuted in Lackawanna County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Robert LaBar of the Attorney General's Insurance Fraud Section.
Allentown, PA 18102
- Lehigh Valley 69 News