A Claremore doctor who was indicted last month for charges involving drug conspiracy and distributing hydrocodone is now facing at least four civil lawsuits from former patients who are accusing him of medical negligence.
Jeremy David Thomas is named in five 12-count federal indictments that accuse him of conspiring with former patients to distribute hydrocodone. Through its own investigation, the state medical board found Thomas was taking eight to 10 Hydrocodone pills per day.
A federal affidavit stated Thomas, who at the time was an osteopathic surgeon practicing in Claremore, performed up to six surgeries each day.
Now at least four of Thomas’ former patients have filed suits in the District Court of Rogers County, several accusing the doctor of botching surgeries that he performed while under the influence of drugs.
An attorney representing Thomas did not respond to requests for comment on Friday and Monday.
State and federal investigators began looking into Thomas’ practices in 2017.
The Oklahoma State Board of Osteopathic Examiners issued an emergency order to suspend Thomas’ license on Dec. 14, 2017. Board investigators reported that Thomas, who was licensed since 2007, admitted to using eight to 10 Hydrocodone 10 mg tablets per day and splitting prescriptions with at least four fd his patients.
“Dr. Thomas was depressed,” the emergency order said Thomas told investigators. “Dr. Thomas developed this problem after he had a hernia surgery operation and a hematoma he developed in his leg.”
The order stated Thomas “manipulated” patients to obtain controlled substances from them, while knowing the patients needed the drugs themselves.
“He used that to his advantage,” the order stated.
Thomas wrote prescriptions for the patients and had them pay for the drugs, and did not chart all of the prescriptions in the patients’ medical records, the order alleged.
During a hearing of evidence on Oct. 17, 2017, with Thomas and investigators, Thomas surrendered his registration with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Before the investigation, his medical license was in good standing, according to the order.
Text messages between Thomas and six patients showed the doctor would write prescriptions, the patient would fill it and split the pills with Thomas, according to the medical board’s emergency order
“In one text Dr. Thomas directed the patient to meet him in the hospital parking lot because Dr. Thomas would be in between surgeries,” the order stated.
The board found that Thomas acted negligently and engaged in gross malpractice or incompetence, and that he was incapable of practicing. It also found that he was guilty of habitual addiction.
Thomas was named in the federal indictments on June 4, and the case was unsealed June 26. Named as co-conspirators are former patients Toni Dawn Martin, Chad Lee Choat, Shawn Del Martin, Joseph Lee Marcus and Jeffrey Lee Koger.
Thomas allegedly conspired to distribute the drugs from October 2015 or earlier to October 2017, according to the indictment. He is free on a $25,000 bond.
Lawsuits from former patients
After Thomas’ license was suspended and following the federal indictments, he now has at least four civil lawsuits from former patients pending against him.
Chelsea Devers, who said Thomas treated her, had surgery after she began having pain in her left knee, according to a civil lawsuit filed on June 22. Thomas allegedly recommended a MRI, showing Devers had several injuries to her knee, including a medial meniscus and lateral meniscus tear.
Devers had surgery on June 22, 2016, and was released from Thomas’ care Sept. 27, 2016, according to the suit. Later, she started to have pain in her knee. After several months she saw another orthopedic surgeon who recommended further treatment and surgery, the suit stated.
Devers is alleging the surgery failed because of gross negligence, carelessness and recklessness. In her suit, Devers stated she was unaware Thomas was accused of abusing and becoming addicted to pain medication when she consented to the procedure.
On Jan. 25, 2017, Thomas allegedly performed shoulder surgery on Peggy Bacon. After the operation, she experienced “problems,” and a second surgery was scheduled for May 23, 2017, according to a suit Bacon filed on June 26.
On May 22, Bacon was preparing for surgery when she allegedly learned the procedure had been canceled. The suit stated Bacon later learned it was because Thomas was being investigated by the Rogers County District Attorney’s Office, the DEA and OBN for illegally obtaining and using drugs.
She is seeking more than $10,000.
Marcus Kennedy was diagnosed with degenerative joint disease in his left hip and has alleged he did not respond to Thomas’ “conservative” treatment and continued to have daily symptoms, according to a lawsuit Kennedy filed on February 22.
Thomas allegedly recommended Kennedy undergo a total left hip reconstruction, according to the suit.
Kennedy had the surgery at Hillcrest in late February 2016, but allegedly quickly began experiencing problems with his left hip. He could no longer lift his leg, his hip felt weak and he had trouble walking, the suit stated.
During a follow up appointment, Kennedy expressed his concerns to Thomas, who allegedly said the symptoms were normal, according to the suit.
For months, Kennedy attempted physical therapy, but the problems persisted, the suit stated. In an attempt to determine the problem, Thomas allegedly recommended an exploratory surgery.
Thomas performed the procedure on June 13, according to the suit. An operative note indicated: “Upon inspection of the deep subcutaneous tissue, we immediately encountered the problem and (sic) disturbance with his gait. … This was a large rupture measuring 10-12 cm in length with the exposure of the greater trochanter.”
As a result of the rupture, Kennedy has allegedly suffered permanent injury his muscle function has not returned, his lawsuit stated.
Kennedy did not know Thomas was accused of abusing pain medication or accused of conspiring in a scheme where he overprescribed medicine for his own use, according to the suit.
On April 16, 2016, Tamra Bailey fell and fractured her right wrist. Because of swelling, she went to the Craig General Hospital emergency Department where she was referred to Thomas, according to a suit she filed on March 5.
Thomas allegedly performed surgery on April 25, the lawsuit stated. On May 5, Bailey was placed in a cast. However, a few days later she called the clinic because she was still in pain and was told to come back in, according to the suit.
In her suit, Bailey stated she believed her cast was fitted too tight. Her cast was removed on May 17, and her medical records stated, “ swelling became an issue that worsened over the last several days,” according to the suit. Her thumb had become numb.
On May 26, medical providers allegedly recommended she see a physical therapist because of damage to her wrist and hand, the suit stated. In therapy Bailey worked on the range of motion in the hand, but the treatment didn’t help.
Bailey met with another orthopedic surgeon on August 3, who concluded her hand and wrist were “exceptionally stiff,” and her wrist was discolored, the suit stated.
The suit alleged the issues were caused by Bailey’s improperly fitted cast, and that she now has complex regional pain syndrome — or chronic pain.
She is seeking more than $75,000 in damages.