A bitter pill: Jahani patient struggles to find a new doctor
Angie Linville had a difficult time finding another doctor after federal authorities started looking into the practices of two local doctors.
The 57-year-old Grand Junction woman lives with chronic pain after suffering brain injuries and numerous broken bones in a car accident in 2001. For years, she had been seeing Dr. Sam Jahani at his Delta practice and Dr. Eric Peper, who worked at Jahani’s GJ Urgent Care office in Grand Junction.
Fourteen different physicians turned her down as a new patient after learning she had been treated by Jahani. Physicians were unwilling to treat her because they thought she had been overprescribed medication, she said.
“Trying to find a doctor in this valley was tough,” she said.
Linville did find a physician, but it required the help of her health care insurance company, Rocky Mountain Health Plans.
On Oct. 14, the Drug Enforcement Administration raided GJ Urgent Care, 517 N. First St., and Jahani’s Delta and Montrose offices, confiscating medical files. That same day, Rocky Mountain Health Plans suspended Jahani and Peper, along with nurse practitioner Birgitt Schmalz, from the insurance’s network. The company also assigned a case manager to help any of the 480 insurance customers who needed to find a new doctor.
“All of our members should be transitioned out by now,” Rocky Mountain Health Plans spokeswoman Kayla Arnesen said. “Case managers had to contact everyone through a combination of letters or phone calls.
“I’ve been here for eight years. That’s the first time that I’ve seen physicians suspended from the network.”
Arnesen said its company’s customers were absorbed by other doctors, despite a shortage of primary-care doctors in Mesa County that reflected a trend nationwide.
Neither Jahani nor Peper has been arrested since the raid. Documents in the case are under seal.
On Dec. 15, the State Board of Medical Examiners prohibited Jahani from prescribing prescription medications in lieu of having his medical license suspended, according to an agreement between Jahani and the board.
Peper’s medical license remains active and unchanged.
Jahani’s Delta office at 164 W. Third St. was open to patients last week, but attempts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.
Linville said she was prescribed a number of medications by Jahani that she didn’t need.
After being prescribed medications by Jahani, Peper worked with her to limit her intake. For example, Linville said she was prescribed by Jahani to take two Phenerol pills with codeine every six hours, or eight pills per day.
Peper said she could get by with taking six of those medications a day, and he helped her get off other pain pills she was simultaneously prescribed by Jahani, which included Percodan and Gabapentin, Linville said.
Linville, a retired registered nurse, said Jahani overprescribed to a potentially dangerous level.
“Nursing is more than giving pills and giving shots. Your heart has to be there,” she said. “This doctor that I was supposed to trust was hurting me.”