Tenn. doctor plans to plead guilty to opioid distribution

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (AP) -- A Tennessee doctor who had five patients fatally overdose in a 10-month span intends to plead guilty to distributing a controlled substance.

The Tennessean reports 64-year-old Dr. Darrel Rinehart's attorney filed a motion to have a hearing in December where Rinehart "intends to plead guilty."

Attorney James Simmons says Rinehart will confess to one count of drug distribution. He says the decision to plead guilty came after examining discovery provided by prosecutors. Simmons declined to elaborate.

Rinehart was indicted in March on 19 counts of distribution of a control substance.

The newspaper says health records indicated at least five of Rinehart's patients fatally overdosed partially or wholly because of drugs he prescribed between March 2015 and January 2016.

Rinehart told the medical board he was ignorant of safe prescribing laws.