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A former Scripps Encinitas anesthesiologist has been placed on a seven-year probation after stealing and self-administering propofol during a shift at the hospital. Photo by Laura Place
A former Scripps Encinitas anesthesiologist has been placed on a seven-year probation after stealing and self-administering propofol during a shift at the hospital. Photo by Laura Place
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Board: Ex-Scripps Encinitas anesthesiologist stole, used narcotics

ENCINITAS — An anesthesiologist who formerly worked in the labor and delivery unit at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas has been placed on a seven-year probation by the Medical Board of California for stealing narcotics, including the anesthetic and sedative propofol, and self-administering them while at work.

As of early March, Anna Michelle Bowling is prohibited from working as an anesthesiologist except under certain conditions, including being monitored by a medical professional, undergoing periodic drug testing, and participating in psychotherapy and a substance abuse support group, according to a disciplinary order.

During this probationary period, Bowling, who hasn’t worked at the hospital for nearly two years, is also prohibited from having a solo practice.

A report by Scripps Encinitas regarding a May 2022 incident served as the impetus for the hospital’s investigation and Bowling’s resulting probation. 

According to the complaint, Bowling was nearing the end of a 12-hour shift on May 5 when a doctor observed her to be “disheveled, glassy-eyed,” and staggering to walk. Bowling said that she was dehydrated and ill and attempted to walk to her car to leave.

Due to her impaired state, other hospital staff informed her it was not safe for her to drive and tried to prevent her from leaving in her car. She grew agitated, and after law enforcement arrived, she was permitted to leave with a ride-sharing service. 

During an investigation interview in early 2023, Bowling admitted to taking and self-administering propofol that day, stating that she was “trying to dull some of the emotional pain” she was feeling. Propofol is a sedative and the active component used to induce general anesthesia.

She also admitted to one other instance of taking home a syringe of propofol before the incident and taking home glass vials of narcotics, including fentanyl, hydromorphone and midazolam, “11 or 12 times” the previous month. 

“These glass vials contained excess narcotic medication not entirely used during surgical procedures; and because hospital staff did not track disposal of ‘empty’ glass vials, [Bowling] was able to divert them without being detected,” the Medical Board stated in its report.  

A psychiatrist who performed a mental evaluation of Bowling initially advised in November of 2022 that allowing her to practice medicine posed a safety risk to patients and the public. However, in March 2023, the psychiatrist added an addendum to his report stating that it would be safe for Bowling to practice medicine with certain restrictions.

Scripps provided a statement regarding Bowling on Tuesday:

“Dr. Bowling has not worked at a Scripps facility since May 2022. Physicians are not employees of Scripps Health but are members of an independent, self-governing medical staff. The proceedings and records of a medical staff are confidential pursuant to California law,” Scripps said in a statement. 

As a condition of her probation, Bowling must also inform all patients of her probation status and provide them with a waiver to sign. She will also be required to participate in ethics and professionalism training and is prohibited from using alcohol or controlled substances outside of what she has been medically prescribed. 

Bowling could not be reached for a comment request.

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