Physiatrist’s Medical License on Probation for Crashing Jag While on Coke and Pills

The bad doctor is in. Illustration by Matt Coker

The medical license of a Huntington Beach physiatrist or physical medicine and rehabilitation physician has been placed on probation for six years because he was convicted in Orange County Superior Court for crashing a Jaguar into a light pole while high on cocaine and prescription drugs.

The Medical Board of California order that went into effect May 18 against the license of Dr. Ronald Michael Schilling can be read by clicking here. 

With their signatures dated Jan. 24 to an acceptance letter, Schilling and his attorney Lindsay M. Johnson agreed with the medical board’s description of the facts that led to the discipline.

Schilling had been behind the wheel of a blue 2011 Jaguar XJL that witnesses say was driving erratically before slamming into a light pole and coming to rest on a sidewalk along Saybrook Lane south of Edinger Avenue in Huntington Beach the morning of Nov. 8, 2014.

According to a Huntington Beach Police Department report, the Jag sustained major front end damage before Schilling got out and retrieved several medication bottles from the luxury sedan’s center console. Officers say he later showed signs of intoxication as he told them he had taken Valium, cocaine and Oxycontin before driving. Schilling was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

He was then searched, and officers found a baggie containing a substance that appeared to be cocaine in his right front pocket. Schilling told cops he had purchased the coke for his wife from a “Dennis” in Newport Beach and that he was confident the drug was genuine because he previously used “a lot” of it and he had tasted it to “make sure.” Police said they found medications, including narcotics, in unmarked containers in the Jag.

Blood tests would later reveal Schilling tested positive for a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and a sedative for sleep. He was eventually charged with three misdemeanor counts–for DUI, drug possession and being under the influence of a controlled substance. On Oct. 19, 2015, in Orange County Superior Court, Schilling pleaded guilty to DUI and the other counts were dropped. He was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to attend a three-month First Offender Alcohol Program and perform 40 hours of community service. 

The medical board found that Schilling’s legal woes made him subject to discipline for: dangerous use of alcohol and self use of a controlled substance; conviction of substantially related crimes; violation of laws regulating drugs; and general unprofessional conduct.

Technically, Schilling’s license to practice medicine in California was revoked by the board, but that order was stayed over the six-year probationary period should he meet certain conditions, including: obey all laws; complete an ethics course; have his work monitored by a substance abuse expert; and abstain from use of alcohol and controlled substances and from supervising physician assistants or advance practice nurses.

Schilling also must: file regular diagnostic reports and quarterly progress reports to the board; submit to drug testing, psychotherapy and participation in a substance abuse support group; and provide the names and contact information for all employers and supervisors to the board and inform those work leaders of his discipline from the board, something that also must be done with clinics or hospitals where he has privileges.

Major violations of probation conditions, including failing a drug test, will result in the medical board issuing an immediate cease-practice order and Schilling being subjected to a clinical diagnostic evaluation. Minor violations could be met with the same and/or a fine, a citation, a warning letter, increased supervision, increased documentation and limits placed on his practice.

Violations of any sort can also cause license revocation proceedings to begin.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.