Patients come to Delano doctor's defense amid medical board investigation

Dr. Sadegh Salmassi is under investigation by the Medical Board of California for allegations of overprescibing medications to a patient who died of an opioid overdose in 2013. Photo courtesy Alec Cartio.

DELANO, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - After news came out that the Medical Board of California was investigating Delano Dr. Sadegh Salmassi for possibly overprescribing opioid medications to a patient, he received an outpouring of support on Facebook from patients who are in disbelief that he could ever be guilty of the allegations.

Annette and Danny Carter have been patients of Salmassi for the past 30 years, and consider him their family doctor.

When Danny Carter began having headaches and vomiting earlier last year, Salmassi ordered an emergency MRI, which found he had a septal hematoma and needed brain surgery.

"If it wasn't for Dr. Salmassi, I wouldn't have my husband today," Annette Carter said.

On Jan. 11, the Medical Board of California submitted a 16-page complaint, accusing Salmassi of "gross negligence" and excessively prescribing opioids, methadone, and multiple central nervous system depressants to a woman whose August 2013 death was ruled by the Fresno County Coroner as an opioid overdose from prescriptions Salmassi had refilled just a day before her death.

Three years ago, the MBC began examining the death certificates of thousands of people who died from opioid overdoses in 2012 and 2013.

Kimberly Kirchmeyer, executive director of the consumer affairs department of MBC. spoke at an Enforcement Committee meeting in July 2017 about the results from studying the death certificates, noting that the board had identified 522 cases that needed to be initiated to investigate the physicians who may have inappropriately prescribed medications.

The board claims Salmassi knew of the woman's alcohol use and that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Carter said her husband used to drink a beer every night, and that Dr. Salmassi warned him not to drink alcohol while taking the medications Salmassi prescribed. Carter stopped drinking beer.

"Dr. Salmassi explained the interactions with him," Carter said.

Salmassi has been reprimanded by the Medical Board before. In 2007, he was ordered to take a physician-assessment program and medical-record-keeping course after the board found he had misdiagnosed a woman who suffered from stomach cancer and later died.

Despite these new allegations, the Carters refuse to believe he's at fault.

"I would stand up for that man any time," Annette Carter said.

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