Doctors Behaving Badly: Medical board gives addicted Montana doctor last chances galore

Published on
September 27, 2010

The heart of Helena, the capital city of Montana, is called Last Chance Gulch, named after the chance prospectors took panning for gold in the creek that used to run wild through the area.

Dr. Stanley Robert Schure could certainly relate. He has had about a dozen "last chances" courtesy of the Montana Board of Medical Examiners.

According to board documents, Schure has been in and out of drug treatment since 1994. That year, he entered the Montana Professional Assistance Program (MPAP). The program, like others of its kind, has a noble goal. It aims to help doctors who are using drugs or alcohol to cope with the intense demands of their profession. Good doctors can and do find ways to overcome addictions. The trouble with programs like MPAP is that they, too, can become a revolving door, allowing doctors to continue to treat patients without letting the patients know that their doctors may be under the influence.

Schure was a textbook case.

As the board itself noted, Schure "had entered into a total of six MPAP aftercare agreements with only marginal compliance." His last one was in June 2001. His addiction was deemed so bad that the board required him "to inform his primary care physician, dentist and any other health care provider with prescriptive authority of the nature of his disease and the limitations imposed on him by the MPAP agreement."

Did he comply?

"Almost immediately after approval of the MPAP agreement, [Schure] began to show non-compliance," the board wrote.

He skipped around from job to job, including stints at a hospital and at a chiropractic center in Missoula, but he didn't tell the board where he was working.

He wouldn't always provide urine specimens when ordered by the board, either. When he did, the tests revealed that he had been taking painkillers in violation of board orders. Schure said he was trying to deal with the pain from an arthritic knee.

In May 2004, he told the board that he was sick of being monitored and was going to retire from the practice of medicine.

A decade of dodgy compliance with board orders and a proven pattern of drug dependency was not enough for the board to take swift action. Instead, it took another two years for the board to put Schure out of business for good. The board revoked his license in March 2006. In Washington state, where he also was licensed, the Washington State Medical Commission revoked his license in July 2007.

Final question: How good are the chances that a citizen of the great state of Montana will be allowed to review the histories of doctors like Schure? I think that the state's licensee database is pure gold. Were it this easy to find and download doctor histories everywhere, Antidote would have no reason to do its state-by-state tour of medical boards.

Jenn Harris contributed to this report.

To see this doctor, and others, on the Doctors Behaving Badly Google map, click here.

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