A Tennessee physician was sentenced today in the Western District of Tennessee to 20 years in prison for his unlawful prescribing of opioids that caused the death of one of his patients.
According to court documents, Thomas K. Ballard III, 63, of Jackson, a medical doctor, owned and operated the Ballard Clinic, where he prescribed controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. Among other things, Ballard engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with several female patients while he ignored red flags that they were abusing the medications he prescribed. These abuses were often reflected in Ballard’s own medical records.
Ballard’s unlawful prescribing to one patient led to her death. Ballard’s treatment records indicated that he believed the patient had psychiatric issues, overutilized medication, had engaged in manipulation, and fabricated personal trauma. The records also reflected that the patient had been incarcerated, received prescriptions elsewhere for Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid dependency disorder, and that she had abnormal drug testing results, including because of what Ballard believed was tampering. Nevertheless, Ballard prescribed the patient hydrocodone repeatedly, including on May 28, 2015. She fatally overdosed on the prescription drug the following day. On June 23, 2021, Ballard pleaded guilty to one count of illegal drug distribution resulting in death.