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$1 million reimbursed to troubled doctor

– After months of investigating what they described as numerous drug overdoses because of his treatment, state officials moved to seek the suspension of one prominent Fort Wayne pain doctor.

This was late 2012 and would mark the beginning of a controversy surrounding Dr. William Hedrick.

That year, he received more than $1 million in reimbursements from Medicare, according to data released by the government this month.

Hedrick, the founder and president of the Centers for Pain Relief in Northern Indiana, could not be reached for comment for this story.

He ultimately avoided strong sanctions from the Indiana Medical Licensing Board last year when the panel placed him on probation for two years.

The board found that Hedrick, who was facing license suspension, had overused steroid injections in the spine and had failed to properly oversee his employees.

Though lawsuits alleging he was responsible for some patients’ deaths are still winding through the legal system, he was not held accountable for those deaths by the licensing board or any other entity.

As reporters and news organizations began to pick through the large data set regarding Medicare payments, more and more cases of physicians receiving money under questionable circumstances came to light.

A ProPublica investigation found that some doctors nationwide continued receiving money from Medicare after being suspended from a state’s Medicaid system – or even after being indicted on criminal charges.

Indiana officials, however, did not move to suspend Hedrick until December 2012, the only year for which Medicare has made reimbursement data available.

Hedrick faces a misdemeanor charge of jury interference, filed by Allen County prosecutors last year.

An employee of Hedrick’s was selected to serve on a jury during a high-profile trial in Allen County, only to return to work to learn that he’d lost his job, according to a police report and court documents.

Hedrick is scheduled to stand trial on that charge next month.