Florence doctor found guilty for 22 felony charges - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Florence doctor found guilty for 22 felony charges

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Chris Christensen, a former Florence doctor, has been found guilty of all 22 felony charges, including the negligent homicide charges for the overdose deaths of two patients. He faced other felony counts for criminal distribution of dangerous drugs and criminal endangerment.

The maximum sentence for these crimes is 405 years. 

Christensen was arrested in 2015 after police for prescribing pain pills to his patients in dangerous doses and combinations.

This wasn't the first time that Christensen's prescriptions resulted in death. In 2001, he surrendered his license while practicing in Idaho when a separate investigation revealed at least five of his patients died and six were hospitalized due to drug overdoses.

During the trial, Christensen claimed he was just empathetic to pain. The prosecutor came out swinging, pointing to Christensen's lack of documenting medical records. The former doctor then revealed that he didn't know this documentation was required by law.

Attorney Bill Fulbright is relieved and happy with the outcome, say that this case is making the community aware of the serious opioid epidemic in Montana.

Between 2000 and 2015, Montana had hundreds of opioid deaths and over 7,000 hospitalizations between 2011 and 2013. In 2015, the CDC reports that Montana had 138 opioid deaths, which is on par (per capita) with the national rate of opioid-related deaths.

In America, roughly 2 million people have reported opioid addictions. In the same report, Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, says that rates of prescribing drugs are four times higher then they were 15 years ago.

This crisis cost the U.S. over 500 billion dollars in 2015 according to MarketWatch and it kills tens of thousands each year. Locally, Montanans pay over $1 million each year. 

President Donald Trump declared opioid abuse a national public health emergency in October.

Christensen will be sentenced on Dec. 27.

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