NAUGATUCK — Dr. Carl Schiano, a primary care physician who quietly and unexpectedly closed his downtown practice last fall, lived in Middlebury from October to January with two longtime patients, but they kicked him out of their house after they found evidence he was abusing drugs and stealing from them.
Schiano left 109 pages of medical records in the couple’s basement, according to a Department of Public Health investigative report. The medical records were turned over to the health department.
Patients said they were left helpless when Schiano closed his office on the corner of Rubber Avenue and Church Street in September, with no warning or attempt to give out medical files or refill prescriptions. Schiano did not answer calls from patients and left the house he rented in Roxbury.
One of Schiano’s former patients, whose name was redacted from the report along with the names of his wife and son, was in a Dunkin’ Donuts in October when he ran into Schiano, who called him afterward asking to borrow money, according to the investigative report. When Schiano came by the house to pick up the money, he told the family he was sleeping in his car, so they offered to let him stay with them, according to the report.
Schiano “had severe mood swings and appeared drowsy when he was there,” the wife told an investigator.
Family members said they found drug paraphernalia in the basement where Schiano was staying. Their son once entered the bathroom to find a syringe, a freshly-burned spoon, a lighter and new blood splatter on the edge of the tub. He took some of the items to police and was told the doctor could be using heroin, according to the report.
Asked about the items, Schiano told the family he kept them “as a reminder of his past life,” according to the report.
Schiano later wrote the wife a prescription for the antidepressant Lexapro, which she did not fill. He backdated it to a time when he had malpractice insurance, according to the report. Without examining him, Schiano also recommended that the son begin taking Plavix, a prescription-only anti-clotting drug.
The family asked Schiano to leave after the wife found pawn slips listing Schiano’s name and her husband’s power tools. After Middlebury police became involved, Schiano returned tools worth $5,500. He still owes the couple more than $3,000 that he borrowed from them, according to the report.
After Schiano left, he called and told the family he wanted the basement trash, which contained a zip-lock bag with at least one teaspoon of white powder, ripped and stamped wax paper baggies, a syringe and bottles of urine, according to the report. The son brought the items to Middlebury police, who told the state a field test on the white powder did not come up positive for any drug.
After Schiano’s sister told the family her brother had been taking their medications, they checked a bottle of Hydrocodone in the kitchen cabinet, where Schiano “was often seen milling about,” according to the report. The husband had been prescribed 120 pills after back surgery and took one, but 74 others were missing and the bottle had been filled instead with unknown capsules, according to the report.
The Connecticut Medical Examining Board suspended Schiano’s license last month pending a hearing, which has been postponed to an unannounced date. His license was also suspended in 2006 after he was found to be abusing drugs.
In e-mail exchanges, Schiano wrote to the Department of Public Health that he would deliver some patients’ medical records Dec. 28, but never showed up. He also wrote that he would move his patients’ records to a storage facility, but an investigator in January saw boxes of records in the doctor’s former office, according to the report. A note on the door listed a borough post office box where people could send requests for records, but the postal service told the investigator the box number does not exist and Schiano has never had a post office box in the borough.
Patients in need of their records can call the Department of Public Health at (860) 509-7552.