BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — United States Magistrate H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. criticized prosecutors before deciding that Dr. Eugene Gosy can return to his patients as long as he doesn’t write prescriptions.
The judge said his decision to expand Gosy’s role at his clinic is for the patients’ benefit.
When he decided on the original conditions of Gosy’s bail on April 27, Schroeder said he was not aware of the “adverse fallout” that would occur and that there “would be innocent patients that would be put in jeopardy.”
When judges decide on bail they focus on whether the suspect is a danger to the community. In this decision, Schroeder said he was considering the other side of the coin – whether not doing something would trigger a public health crisis.
“We can’t justify doing nothing,” Schroeder said in court.
Schroeder said he was swayed by an appeal from Dr. Robert Milch, an expert in pain medicine and co-founder of Hospice and its former medical director who gave the defense an affidavit that warned of a medical “tsunami” if Gosy’s office was allowed to close.
“I can’t accept that seeing patients constitutes a danger,” Schroeder said in court.
Milch joined two other doctors to treat patients, Nancy Nielsen, senior associate dean for health policy at the University at Buffalo’s Jacob School of Medicine and Biomedical Science and Christopher Kerr, chief medical officer of the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care. But, the physicians who were on loan from their full-time jobs planned to leave by July 28.
If the judge had not allowed Gosy to return to the practice, the doctors were prepared to send notices this week giving patients a 30-day notice to find another doctor. Many patients had complained in early May when Gosy had closed his practice that they could not find doctors willing to take them on. They were being told to go to hospital emergency rooms.
Under Schroeder’s order Gosy can see patients, do medical procedures and recommend prescriptions that must be written by another physician.
His attorney, Joel Daniels praised the judge’s decision. “He recognized an unprecedented danger that this community would face if Dr. Gosy’s office had to close.”
Despite facing a slew of federal charges, ranging from Health Care Fraud to illegally prescribing narcotics, Schroeder said Gosy’s presence is what’s best for the patients.
“We spoke to Dr. Milch, and he is a physician of exceptional experience and compassion and we’re confident that if it is necessary for him to stay longer, he will,” Daniels told reporters.
Milch told News 4 that he is willing to stay on and see patients but not indefinitely.
He said he’s hopeful that the judge’s decision will allow Gosy to find a partner or be able to enlist other physicians willing to rotate in to help.
The arrangement must be approved by health insurance companies who must be willing to pay the fees and the state health department.
A spokesperson for the state Department of Health said officials are reviewing the judge’s decision. “DOH will continue to work with the local medical community to ensure that Dr. Gosy’s patients continue to have access to proper treatment and pain management services,” the spokesperson said.
In arriving at his decision, Schroeder criticized prosecutors for opposing that Gosy return to the practice. In its filing with the court, prosecutors wrote that there were alternatives to narcotics to treat pain. The government provided no expert or expert statement to back up its claim.
Schroeder said he was impressed with what he heard from Milch, a respected local expert in pain management.
Schroeder also reminded prosecutors that he used to be the United States attorney in this district and knows how a case should be prosecuted.
He called out the government for failing in its written arguments to treat Gosy like he is innocent until proven guilty.
One of the prosecutors on the case told News 4 they’re just relieved Gosy still cannot independently prescribe.
“Our office never sought to prevent him from practicing medicine and our office did not seek to attempt to close his office, that was a decision that he made for his own reasons,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Ippolito.
The prosecution said it took the possible backlash of Gosy’s office closing into account but said its job is to enforce criminal statutes.