RALEIGH — The North Carolina Medical Board has suspended the medical license of Laurinburg cardiologist Matthew Block for two years and barred him from prescribing controlled drugs to patients.
The 13-page consent order said the suspension is immediately stayed as long as Dr. Block follows conditions set by state officials. Block signed the order on Oct. 19 and it became effective on Wednesday.
The Medical Board found that the physician, who also serves as mayor of Laurinburg, “committed unprofessional conduct” related to his prescription of Lunesta and/or Ambien — Schedule IV drugs — to an immediate family member. Doctors are prohibited by state and federal law from writing prescriptions for Schedule IV controlled substances to family members.
The board also found that Block admitted to abusing alcohol which made him “unable to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety to patients.”
The medical board announced its decision Wednesday on its website www.ncmedboard.org/about-the-board/latest-board-activity/recent-board-actions.
The other findings include not keeping medical records up-to-date and taking medication prescribed to someone else.
Under the consent order, Block must:
— Refrain from the use of alcohol and controlled substances unless lawfully prescribed by someone other than himself;
— Submit to testing to determine drug or alcohol use; and
— Maintain timely medical records.
Failure to comply with the consent order could result in the board suspending or revoking Block’s medical license.
The board did appear to commend Block for beginning “to remediate his improper behavior before it was known to the board.” State officials also said Block went to rehab, reduced his work load and cooperated with the investigation.
Days before the decision was announced, Block went on Facebook to say that he was grateful his problem had been “nipped in the bud.”
“M wife and I decided that I had to cut back on my work schedule, especially now being mayor so after completing my treat , I resigned my hospital privileges and my life is much more in balance now than in the previous 20 years.
Block has been investigated by the NC Medical Board before.
In July 2003, Block entered into a consent order with the board in which he was reprimanded for allowing his wife to have access his patient charts and sign his name to the patient charts.
In November 2008, Block’s his license was also suspended for two years, with the suspension immediately stayed. The board found that Block had not documented several prescriptions to employees and former employees and that he had authorized numerous prescriptions for controlled substances to a relative.
When that order was lifted in 2011, Block said he would remain in compliance.
“I fully understand that my practice of medicine will always be implicitly under probation and that my practice of medicine, more than other physicians, must follow the letter of the law, in view of the mistakes I have made.”