State suspends surgeon’s license, lawsuits filed

State officials suspended a Winchester orthopedic surgeon’s license after he admitted to performing two surgeries while under the influence of multiple medications earlier this year.

According to state records, the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure restricted Dr. Michael Heilig’s license indefinitely following a meeting in August.

The order from the Board states staff at Clark Regional Medical Center alerted CEO Robert Parker on May 10 that Heilig appeared to be impaired and was about to start his third surgery of the day. According to the order, Parker met with Heilig and believed he was impaired. Heilig submitted to a drug screen, was sent home and suspended his privileges at CRMC.

In the order, nurses said Heilig was confused, unsteady on his feet and “not acting like himself.”

An investigation at Kentucky Orthopedic Associates, where Heilig is a partner, found evidence where he was self-prescribing Ambien, a sleep aid, using other partners’ names and DEA identifications, as well as prescriptions for his brother and wife, who were not patients.

Heilig is facing two civil suits in Clark Circuit Court from former patients, Doug White and 13-year-old Jada McFarland of Irvine, who are seeking damages from Heilig, Clark Regional Medical Center and Kentucky Orthopaedic Associates for their injuries.

According to the lawsuit, Heilig operated on McFarland’s knee on Oct. 12, 2017, for a torn ACL.

White, of Winchester, said Heilig replaced his left hip in late 2017, but continued having severe pain from the joint. Earlier this year, White said he went back to Heilig concerning the pain, but Heilig said it was getting better. White said he told Heilig he was allergic to Percocet and Lortab, but Heilig wrote White a prescription for Percocet. White said he realized later the prescription carried the name of a doctor he had never met.

After getting a second opinion, White had his hip replaced again after another surgeon determined the joint was installed incorrectly and damaged the bone in his leg, he said.

Under the terms of the order, Heilig can request his license to be reinstated if he proves he has been clean.

“”If he stays clean for 90 days, he can get his license back,” White said. “He put me in nine months of pain” in addition to thousands of dollars in medical deductibles and lost salary.

“If I was the only one, he made a mistake,” White said. “I’m not the only one.”