Ridgewood psychiatrist accused of allowing wife to see patients, write prescriptions

Source: North Jersey.com
A Ridgewood psychiatrist who practiced from his home office allowed his wife, a clinical social worker, to see patients and write prescriptions he had signed in advance while he was too sick to work and sometimes confined at a nursing home or hospital, the state alleges.
Dr. James Cowan Jr. has temporarily given up his medical license amid accusations that he indiscriminately prescribed Xanax and Adderall, two addictive drugs, and helped his wife, Maryanne L. Cowan, to do so.
State investigators visited Cowan in a Paramus rehabilitation center in May after inspecting his office and interviewing his wife, his office manager, and a patient who showed up unexpectedly.

Cowan told them that “he believed that after being married for 30 years, he had taught [Maryanne] everything she needed to know to be able to medically treat the patients with his consent,” according to the state’s order to suspend Cowan’s license to prescribe controlled substances.

The investigators went to the nursing home after his office manager told them she had visited him there that morning, and brought him patient files and prescription blanks, which he pre-signed for her to take back to the office.
The office manager said prescriptions for controlled substances were sometimes left in the mailbox or on the porch in sealed envelopes labeled with the patients’ names for them to pick up after hours.
At the time of the investigators’ visit to Cowan’s office, his wife said he had been a patient in a hospital or nursing home for two months, the filing said.
Maryanne Cowan admitted that she had written prescriptions for controlled substances for “numerous patients” while he was out of the office, and was “trying to help the patients.”
Investigators interviewed a patient who arrived. He told them he had been referred by a friend to get prescriptions for Xanax and Adderall, and had visited in February and March and paid $200 cash each time, the legal filing said. He had been seen only by Mrs. Cowan, who gave him scrips for 60 pills of each drug at each of his visits, he told investigators.
The state also alleges that a majority of the patient records examined lacked any documentation about the medical necessity for the medications.
James Cowan is now barred from practicing medicine and writing prescriptions for controlled substances until the state Board of Medical Examiners acts on his case. He was also required to return all prescription pads.
Cowan previously was chief of psychiatry at East Orange General Hospital. He is a 1970 graduate of the Meharry Medical College School of Medicine, and did his residencies at Harlem Hospital Center.

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