Board documents show that one of Trow's patients overdosed three times between April and November of 2011.
The patient died four days after the most recent overdose, although board investigators noted that the patient died of natural causes. Two of Trow's other patients during this time died, as well, but their deaths were also ruled natural, records show.
It was also determined through the board's investigation that Trow was seeing pain management patients via Skype. Such patients are typically prescribed large amounts of potentially dangerous painkillers and other drugs, a major concern for board member Dr. J. Andy Sullivan, an orthopedic surgeon.
When interviewed by investigators, Trow said he began using Skype to see patients when his health went on the decline. He said patients would go to one of several clinics owned by his employer and that a nurse “presented the patients to him via Skype.”
“He stated that he did not think he had to see patients in person since they were psychiatric patients,” a board investigator wrote about Trow.
Telemedicine in use
Dr. Paul Preslar, of Midwest City, said he uses telemedicine to treat patients in Oklahoma's rural areas.
Preslar, who described himself as a family doctor, said there are many cases where telemedicine is appropriate, even demonstrating the website he uses to see patients over the Internet.
The doctor said he doesn't prescribe narcotics when practicing telemedicine and that the website displays a disclaimer to let patients know what to expect.
Presler said he treated a patient for a spider bite using telemedicine in recent weeks. He said things like poison ivy and minor colds are treatable using only telemedicine but acknowledged that many diagnoses must be made with a face-to-face, in-person visit.
As for Oklahoma doctors using Skype to treat patients in the future, it appears the practice is still not allowed.
An official with the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center described Skype as being “consumer-grade.” She said those “heavily involved” in telemedicine in Oklahoma use equipment that is “medical- or professional-grade.”