Montana Doctor Closes His Practice

Montana Doctor Closes His Practice

A Montana doctor who has been fighting state regulators over his narcotic pain medication prescribing practices has thrown in the towel.

mark ibsen

Dr. Mark Ibsen

Dr. Mark Ibsen announced his will close down his emergency room practice in Helena, Montana effective immediately.

Ibsen has been battling the Montana Board of Medical Examiner for several years, and the intensity of that battle has increased in recent weeks.

Ibsen said Thursday he can no longer sustain the business. Saying the clinic has been rendered worthless, Ibsen plans on giving it away to another proprietor, with whom he is in negotiations.

Last month, the Board of Medical Examiners met to discuss potential sanctions against Ibsen for not meeting standards of care in his recordkeeping. The board rejected an order that would have placed Ibsen’s medical license on probation, but two board members said they wanted to suspend his license while the case is resolved.

“That was a very hostile meeting,” Ibsen said. “They pretty much promised to take my license.”

Montana native, Terri Lewis Ph.D. who is a critic of how medicine is both regulated and delivered in the United States thinks this could have been avoided.

“It is shameful when the resources of government are used to harm private citizens,” she said. “There was nothing about this that could not have been resolved and improved.”

The case against began in July 2013, when an investigation into allegations of over-prescribing painkillers began. The order followed four days of hearings last December spawned by allegations by a former employee of Ibsen. More than 20 witnesses testified.

Ibsen says the more than two years of hearings followed by the arduous waiting for word from the Board of Medical Examiners regarding allegations of improper recordkeeping have rendered him emotionally and financially exhausted. His current practice cannot be revived, he said.

“That uncertainty has been rotting the core of my business for years,” Ibsen said.

Because of bounced payroll checks and other issues, the clinic didn’t have enough staff Wednesday to open its doors.

“This is a ghost town here,” Ibsen said, gazing around one of his patient rooms.

The practice may open under new management after the first of the year.

“The operations of BOME’s are under scrutiny in a number of places including AZ and OK, as they should be,” Terri Lewis said. “They are simply a failed idea, fraught with conflict of interest.”

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

There are 15 comments for this article
  1. Heather at 7:31 pm

    I’m not sure about a special certification program. It depends on if there’s an agenda behind who is supplying/regulating the certification.

    I don’t know if any organization with authority has a balanced, researched approach that’s independent of biases. Who would administer the certification? How could it be made meaningful instead of just another set of initials at the end of a doctor’s title? The first question of how to base the certification on research and independent of biases is critical and primary, though.

  2. I.Hollis at 8:43 am

    Dear Dr. Ibsen,
    This is truly a travesty. To leave people in pain is torture and dangerous. Lives are being lost. Is that what our country will be remembered for? The time in which we lost our hearts? These witch hunts on good people who are saving lives have to stop!! People are in need of decent, skilled, compassionate, humanitarian pain care. We have needlessly lost another great one. It is past time for a special certification program for pain specialists to protect our fine doctors like you from these draconian policies. Our thoughts are with you.

  3. Emily Ullrich at 5:08 pm

    Dr. Ibsen,

    I have been following your story for years. I am SO SADDENED that we have lost you as one of the last remaining doctors who is willing to defend the needs of pain patients. I sincerely hope that you will consider working for the cause in some other way, or joining a pain clinic staff (I am on the board for Elite Pain Management, and we need more doctors like you. We have clinics in multiple states, and would love to have you on board, please contact me if you would be interested). As an advocate and pain author, I feel as though I am fighting a losing battle, and the government is dismanteling our efforts, little by little, until everyone gives up or dies. We NEED you, Dr. Ibsen, if only to know that there are still doctors who care and are willing to defend our basic human right to proper pain care.

  4. marty at 1:15 am

    So sorry to hear that Dr Ibsen finally had to give up his practice . He worked so hard to continue being a good doctor to his patients even with the harassment he went thru. I see this happening to more and more in the medical field . So sad that so many have to suffer because people that don’t know a thing about chronic pain are making it near impossible to get good doctors who really do want to help. The only thing I see happening here is more and more people will take to the streets for cheap drugs out of desperation for pain control. I have always been a strong woman even living with pain 24/7 but lately I have wondered what will become of me if I have to worry about my pain killers being taken away. Will I change my values on life because I know I couldn’t live in the amount of pain I deal with already? Will my family have to suffer anymore? Please don’t let these people take our lives from us when they have no clue what living with chronic pain is all about. It’s not something you learn about in books or on survey’s or graphs. You live it!!!

  5. Peace2u at 6:21 pm

    I currently Live in pain 24/ 7, 365 days of the year. The opiates that I receive to manage my pain brings my pain level down on average of seven on your typical pain scale. That is a good day for me but, someone who has not suffered chronic pain would crumble into a tiny fetal position. People with chronic pain suffer greatly and you must realize they are amongst the strongest people you may ever know. Living with that intensity of pain day day in and day out requires a great deal of strength to continue on in life. These TEMS units and spinal cord stimulator’s do not work. We don’t even know the long-term effects on the body from an internal spinal cord stimulator. I am sure you can search the Internet and find the horrors involved with spinal cord stimulator’s. TEMS units do absolutely nothing from those suffering from chronic pain. An athlete, who pulled a muscle may find temporary relief until there rehab is complete. Let’s try to tell that to a person with had spinal fluid invaded buy black mold. Doctors, running a drive through service for epidural shots. Patients in severe pain looking for some relief been trusting in the doctor to help them only to find out that the line outside of their office it’s strictly a cash cow for the doctor. If they continue to escalate opiate usage for those who truly suffer severe pain you can rest assured that there will be an epidemic of suicides. Then the government we’ll be asking why we need to have a special committee figure out why. They just don’t get it. But wait until one day they are stricken with chronic pain and live a lonely life filled with sorrow in pain. Let them see the wive’s and the children suffering along with their husband or daddy because they are in so much pain. Let them lose everything they ever owned because of chronic pain. Not until a majority of Senate leaders, Congressmen, and those who are on this witch hunt will ever understand what chronic pain is. Our lives are already cut short don’t cuddle shorter because of your myths about chronic pain patients.

  6. Susan at 1:05 pm

    Has anyone considered a class action? We have to start fighting back or this is going to have a very bad outcome.

  7. M.C. at 11:52 am

    Amazing how one worker in a doctor’s office, who is not even a doctor, can have the ability to cause such doubt with a medical board; which turned into a huge witch hunt that has now caused the closing & ruin of a career. That office worker has directly caused so much pain, to not only the emotional pain the doctor is feeling but also the physical pain of every patient that now has no care. I do hope she is served a big dish of crow pie in the near future.
    Shame on that office worker & her holier than thou opinions on pain care.

  8. Kurt W.G. Matthies at 11:51 am

    Mark Ibsen yet another victim of an opiophobic medical board, the members of which do not understand that treatment of chronic pain is a necessary medical intervention to attenuate the progression of physiological disease.

    Hundreds of competent clinicians are being singled out because they will not knuckle under to the politicization of pain medicine in states all over America, from California to Kansas, Massachusetts to Florida and back again.

    It is only one travesty that makes America’s medical system the laughing stock of the world in its proper place at the very bottom of the list of top 20 medical systems in the westernized world.

    Unfortunately, Mark’s not laughing and neither are his patients.

    Helena, Mt is hurting tonight.

  9. Doc Anonymous at 11:00 am

    I feel akin to Dr. Ibsen having gone through similar regulatory bashing. I too was forced to close because I could not afford to fight any longer. I was on state probation too and the state REQUIRED that my practice monitor be a shot jock rather than someone who treated with medications. Many of my patients were those harmed by shots and then dumped by the shot jocks in town. And the regulators did not care one whit about whether the patients would be able to find local docs to continue their treatment. Most did not and most are still having to travel excessive distances to find docs to treat them. Some have just given up getting any medical care. Even the ones who were getting NON-opioid treatment are having trouble getting their non-opioid treatment prescribed and/or covered by insurance. I could go on but the details do not matter. Behind it all is one common thread: a business/regulatory driven war on one group of people: those disabled by chronic intractable pain! We docs who chose to treat people with this disability are only a few of the many casualties. Welcome Mark Ibsen. Perhaps we can somehow sew the seeds of a new reawakening of the heart and soul of what medicine should be rather than what it has become.

  10. LouisVA at 10:36 am

    Chronic, ongoing pain is tantamount to TORTURE. The 8th Amendment of the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights protects American citizens from CRUEL & UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT. TORTURE is CRUEL & UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT; thus, denying pain relief should be considered illegal under the Constitution of the US. Our own government is guilty of denying pain relief to those of us that need it; therefore, isn’t our own government guilty of torturing its own citizens?

  11. Marylee James at 9:52 am

    How absolutely devastating for Dr. Ibsen, for his patients, and for all who work to bring integrity and human rights back to our nation. When I stand in my college classroom and observe the idealism and hope of my students and then read of oppressive greed, abuse of power, and narcissistic human actions taken by people just because they have the power to do so, my heart breaks for these young adults, for the ugly mess of a country they will inherit. It is bad enough that our generation is destroying our lives…must it also foul the lives of generations to come? These are not isolated incidents that lack a ripple effect. The total costs in lives, loss of credibility of our nation, and even harm to the environment come back to us in the form of more hatred, crime, violence and destruction of the very nature of civilized human life. I can understand why good people like Dr. Ibsen feel forced to give up. I also understand that the extremists count on the disheartening effects of their actions to help them recreate society in their own greedy, narcissistic image. Like Dr. Ibsen, we may be forced to suffer losses in this war but there are still more good, thoughtful people in this country than extremists. We may lose a battle once in a while, but if we fail to speak and act in unison against this heresy of profit and power, we will have no one to blame but ourselves. And our children will pay the price.

  12. Heather at 9:33 am

    Interesting, what Tootie posted. Sounds like a conflict of interests. I’m sorry this forced a practitioner into closing his doors.

    It’s the modern-day witch-hunt, and it’s going to claim lives and livelihoods. The government needs to separate chronic pain patients from addicts in their broad policies and sweeping statements.

  13. Tootie Welker at 8:38 am

    As they say in politics, “follow the money”! Dr. Kneeland, the states expert witness, is an interventional pain Doctor who is paid by St. Jude’s, a manufacturer of implantable TENS units and he promotes steroid injections – the only options for spine pain if you’re unable to access opioids. With over 100 million Americans in chronic pain, the interventional doctors and spine surgeons have an immense cash cow waiting from the 100 million seeking ANY pain reduction. When you live with daily chronic pain you become desperate and will try anything to make it go away. This will also lead increased heroin use and addiction.

  14. Jorja G. at 8:32 am

    So … a doctor throws in the towel due to stringent regulations put forth by — who else? — the government. Clearly, they know more about pain than anyone else including the individual suffering most — the patient.

    This is where we are headed … pain specialists giving up and, as a result, patients taking risks to obtain the medication allowing them to work, pay the bills, live their lives the best they can without debilitating pain.

    When that fails, we will lose our jobs, become dependent on family (if there is family), live in pain 24/7, seven days a week, 365 days a year until …

    Until the pain gets bigger than us … the suicide rate will climb but that’s not important … what’s important is that the government, once again, runs the roost, lines their pockets at the expense of human beings.

    We’re headed in a downward spiral …

  15. Joe at 8:20 am

    Then [edit] make marijuana legal for medical purposes enough is enough if we can’t get the medication we need I might as well put us down and kill us like dogs Thank You insurance companies in the United States government