Le Bonheur heart transplant surgeon faces discipline for unethical drug prescriptions

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Dr. Umar Boston, a pediatric surgeon with Le Bonheur's prestigious heart transplant team, violated Tennessee medical ethics code by prescribing regulated drugs to friends whom he was not treating, according to state documents obtained from the Department of Health.

Boston, featured in Le Bonheur's summer magazine from 2016, came to the children's hospital from St. Louis. Prior to that, he studied at Howard University's medical school and trained at the Mayo Clinic.

In 2016, Boston was part of the surgical team that performed baby Lyric Everhart's transplant. The surgery marked the first heart transplant at Le Bonheur in 18 years. Since then, the program has achieved critical success, as Boston highlighted during a 2018 interview with WREG.

"The team is an outstanding team. The heart center is, as you may know, it was ranked in the top 10 for US News and World Report," he said.

But WREG has now obtained documents showing Dr. Boston started breaking state ethic rules around the same time he got hired.

An order from the Tennessee Department of Health stated Boston engaged in "unprofessional, dishonorable or unethical conduct" from 2016 to 2018. It went on to say Boston wrote inappropriate prescriptions for a friend and a coworker for more than 2,000 pills of a weight loss drug called phentermine.

The consent order stated he never checked the database that monitors controlled substances before prescribing the pills and never treated the recipients medically.

Boston now has to pay a hefty fine of $19,500 and take courses about prescribing controlled substances.

His lawyer sent a statement saying Boston has "accepted full responsibility" and "expressed remorse for his actions." He also justified the behavior saying Boston, "prescribed non-narcotic diet medicine to friends and it did not involve any children or patients."

Le Bonheur officials said almost the same thing in another email; they acknowledged the large fee and the doctor's remorse and highlighted Boston's license is still in good standing with the state.

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