Oklahoma doctor charged with 5 counts of second-degree murder bound over for trial

MIDWEST CITY, Okla. - A Midwest City doctor who was charged with five counts of second-degree murder has been bound over to stand trial.

In June of 2017, Dr. Regan Nichols was arrested at her home after investigators say she over-prescribed large amounts of narcotics, which led to the deaths of several patients.

Between 2010 and 2014, the affidavit states that 10 of Nichols' patients died from overdosing on deadly combinations of narcotics.

The five charges are related to the deaths of five women, who ranged in age from 21-years-old to 55-years-old, each prescribed hundreds of pills.  Some of them died within days of visiting her Sunshine Medical Clinic.

"One of the individuals who was prescribed 510 pills died the same day the prescription was filled," Attorney General Mike Hunter said in June of 2017. 

In one instance, the victim had been over-prescribed so long, the investigator was surprised she didn't die sooner.

Investigators found three of the victims were prescribed a combination of drugs doctors called the addicts' "holy trinity."

"A deadly three-drug combination of narcotic opioid pain reliever, an anti-anxiety drug, and a muscle relaxer," Hunter said.

Over that five-year period, investigators found Dr. Nichols prescribed more than 3 million doses of narcotics to patients.

In a 2015 hearing in front of the Oklahoma State Board of Osteopathic Examiners, Dr. Nichols said she believed her patients developed a tolerance to the narcotics. She also said her patients didn't want to wait for a pain management specialist, she said, "I think they wanted ongoing narcotics."

After that hearing, she was placed on five years probation by the board, during which time she could not prescribe controlled dangerous substances. However, she is still allowed to practice medicine.

Investigators say it's clear she either didn't know she was doing harm, or didn't care, and her patients paid the ultimate sacrifice.

"She has violated, in my view, the Hippocratic Oath, as well as Oklahoma law," Hunter said, "and we're going to seek to hold her accountable."

On Wednesday, Hunter announced that Nichols had been bound over to stand trial.

“A doctor who prescribes patients with thousands of addictive and dangerous opioids outside of a legitimate medical need is a drug dealer,” Attorney General Hunter said. “We are going to hold doctors, like Nichols, accountable for abusing their prescribing authority and the consequent deaths of their patients. We are confident in our case and will bring justice to the loved ones of the victims who lost their lives due to Nichols’ reckless prescribing.”

A pretrial conference has been set for Sept. 9.