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Florence doctor testifies about personal, professional background

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HAMILTON - The former Florence doctor accused of 22 felonies for misprescribing prescription drugs testified Monday in Ravalli County Justice Court with his defense attorney prodding him to provide a detailed explanation of his medical background. 

Chris Christensen’s defense attorney, Josh van der Wetering, is putting fewer witnesses on the stand than the prosecution. He started off Monday morning with a single medical professional from California. Then, Christensen took the stand and began to tell the jury about his personal and professional background.

The premise of the defense’s case is that Christensen is compassionate to a fault, a family doctor who took patients that no one else would.

He established his upbringing and medical background in California, and additional experience overseas before he ended up moving to Idaho to practice medicine in the early 1990’s.

Christensen said it's about that time that he also began to prescribe pain medications. He added that he had particular compassion for pain patients after growing up with a father who was a World War II veteran and an alcoholic.

"I realized that I grew up with a chronic pain patient. I just looked back at my own life and what it had cost my family, the divisions that it generated, that existed from that time on, and I realized that in a very palpable way, there were effects that untreated pain had on the dynamics of a family," Christensen said. 

Christensen decided to go into family medicine in his third year of medical school at UCLA and got into rural medicine through the National Health Service Corp.

According to the defense, it is likely Christensen will be back on the stand on Tuesday. The trial is expected the trial will wrap up this week.

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