Category Archives: Pharmacy

The legal matters involving pharmacies and pharmacists are many. Learn more about pharmacist involvement in investigations by the Department of Health, local investigative agencies, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) and the Drug Enforcement administration (DEA)concerning complaints, including allegations of license violations, prescription fraud, and other types of disciplinary infractions.

Orlando Pharmacist Accused of Filling Phony Prescriptions for Painkillers

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Sex, prescription drugs and money – sounds like the next big rock ‘n’ roll song, doesn’t it? According to a number of news sources, the owner of an Avalon Park-area pharmacist was allegedly knowingly filling phony prescriptions for painkillers. The pharmacist is also accused of exchanging sex for drugs with at least one woman, according to the Orlando Sentinel. This investigation was led by the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Both agencies simultaneously raided the pharmacy on November 29, 2012.

Avalon Park is a community it the greater Orlando area.

DEA Agents Raided Pharmacy and Pharmacist’s Home.

According to WFTV, the owner of the pharmacy and two employees sat handcuffed outside the pharmacy as federal drug agents reportedly removed boxes of evidence from the pharmacy during the raid. Agents then moved onto the pharmacist’s nearby home.

It’s believed another person was producing fake prescriptions and asking others to get them filled at the Avalon pharmacy and others around town. The people who fill the prescriptions are nicknamed “smurfs.” They are usually hired by a drug ring. They return the pills from the prescriptions they get filled, back to the ring. Click here to read what Papa Smurf has to say about his name being used in such a manner.

According to WFTV, 230 fraudulent prescriptions were produced and 33 were filled at the Avalon-area pharmacy.

Click here to watch WFTV’s report on this raid.

Smurf Allegedly Received Drugs for Sex.

A woman, who worked as a smurf, allegedly told federal agents she had sex with the pharmacist. Afterward, the pharmacist gave her cash and oxycodone, according to the Orlando Sentinel. However, we want to make it clear that those who break the law and get caught often point the finger at innocent people, trying to divert blame from themselves.

To read the article from the Orlando Sentinel, click here.

Charges Being Faced.

The pharmacist faces up to 32 counts of trafficking in controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to traffic. Federal agents believe the pharmacist is part of a larger drug ring.

On the Florida Department of Health (DOH) website his license is still listed as clear/active. To see his license status, click here.

Remember, all who are name or discussed in our blog are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Representing Pharmacists and Pharmacies.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to pharmacists and pharmacies in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

Tell us your thoughts on this story. Are federal drug agents fighting a losing battle? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Barrett, Steve. “Avalon Park Pharmacy Owner Accused of Filling Fake Oxycodone Prescriptions.” WFTV. (November 30, 2012). From: http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/dea-agents-raid-avalon-park-pharmacy/nTJbw/

Pauk, Amy. “Pharmacist Accused of Over-Dispensing Painkillers, Exchanging Pills for Sex.” Orlando Sentinel. (November 29, 2012). From: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-avalon-park-pharmacy-20121129,0,6040870.story

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.
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Meningitis Cases in Florida Continue to Rise – Doctors Getting Sued

10 Indest-2008-7By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) confirmed another case of fungal meningitis in Florida on November 19, 2012. A 56-year-old man allegedly received a contaminated steroid injection at Florida Pain Clinic in Marion County, Florida. This brings the state’s total number of fungal meningitis cases up to 24, including three deaths.

To read the entire press release from the Florida DOH, click here.

Meningitis Numbers Around the U.S. 

As of November 19, 2012, the Florida DOH reported the number of fungal meningitis cases nationwide is up to 480 with 33 deaths in 19 states.

The meningitis outbreak is reportedly linked to contaminated steroids made at the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Massachusetts, which is now closed. The compounding pharmacy was allegedly not following the requirements of its state license, according to the Massachusetts DOH. Under Massachusetts state law the NECC was only supposed to produce medications for patient-specific prescriptions, but it is believed the compounding pharmacy was preparing drugs in bulk. I previously wrote a blog on the reports related to the compounding pharmacy violating its license. Click here to read that blog.

Victims Sue Physicians.

Victims of the meningitis outbreak are starting to file lawsuits against the physicians and clinics that administered the tainted steroids. In a Business Insurance article released on October 28, 2012, I was quoted as saying liability might be established to the extent that the physicians were aware that the steroids distributed by the NECC violated regulations on compounding prescription medications. To read the entire article from Business Insurance, click here.

Florida and Fungal Outbreaks.

 Florida has seen its share of fungal outbreaks. I previously blogged about the problems encountered by Franck’s pharmacy in Ocala, Florida. It was accused of distributing eye medications that contained a fungal infection. Click here for the first blog and here for the second blog.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.Jameson. Marni. “Florida Health Officials Confirm State’s 24th Case of Fungal Meningitis.” Orlando Sentinel. (November 19, 2012). From: ttp://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-florida-fungal-meningitis-20121119,0,3451600.story

Comments?

What do you think of the lawsuits again the physicians and clinics that administered the tainted steroid shots? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Hiers, Fred. “Man Who Received Injection Locally Confirmed to Have Fungal Meningitis.” Ocala Star Banner. (November 19, 2012). From: http://www.ocala.com/article/20121119/ARTICLES/121119679/1412?Title=Man-who-received-injection-locally-confirmed-to-have-fungal-meningitis

Greenwald, Judy. “Meningitis Lawsuits Target Physicians.” Business Insurance. (October 28, 2012), From: http://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20121028/NEWS07/310289984?tags=|75|303

Hammonds, Jessica. “Florida Department of Health Uncovers Case of Fungal Meningitis.” Florida Department of Healht. (November 19, 2012). From: ttp://newsroom.doh.state.fl.us/wp-content/uploads/newsroom/2012/11/111912MeningitisUpdateonecase.pdf

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.

Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Fake Pharmacist Sentenced to Prison for Working in Central Florida Pharmacies

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 2, 2012, a former Altamonte Springs resident was sentenced to three and a half years in federal prison for fraudulently working as a Central Florida pharmacist from 2000 to 2009, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Click here to read the press release from the DOJ.

I previously blogged about this story when the fake pharmacist pleaded guilty. Click here to read that blog.

Phony Pharmacist Worked at Central Florida Pharmacies Including CVS and Walgreens.

According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, the man worked at pharmacies throughout Central Florida, including a CVS and a Walgreens. While working at one of the pharmacies, he allegedly gave a customer the incorrect medication, causing that person to suffer a stroke.

Man Will Spend Time in Prison and Must Change His Name.

Allegedly, the man fraudulently obtained a pharmacy license in September of 2000

from the Florida Department of Health (DOH) by using the name, date of birth, Social Security number and pharmacy education information of a licensed pharmacist in Arizona. In 2004 the man actually changed his legal name by fraud to the name of the licensed pharmacist.

Along with his prison sentence, the fake pharmacist was ordered to change his name back to his legal name.

Fun with Alliteration.

Pardon my alliteration, but I just love all of those “F” sounds like I used in the title for this blog. For comparison, see my blog on Franck’s Pharmacy fungus case.

Look for More Stories on Phony and Fraudulent Health Professionals to Come.

In the near future on this blog we will include additional articles on fake doctors and health professionals, some old, some new.

To see a recent blog on a fake dentist in Miami, click here. You can also read the story of a fake plastic surgeon in New York by clicking here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Representing Pharmacists and Pharmacies.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to pharmacists and pharmacies in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

What do you think of all the fake health provider stories? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

FBI.gov. “Pharmacist Impersonator Sentenced to Prison and Ordered to Change His Name.” FBI, Tampa Division. (November 1, 2012). From Press Release: http://www.fbi.gov/tampa/press-releases/2012/pharmacist-impersonator-sentenced-to-prison-and-ordered-to-change-his-name

Pavuk, Amy. “Fake Pharmacist Sentenced to Federal Prison.” Orlando Sentinel. (November 1, 2012). From: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-fake-pharmacist-prison-20121101,0,4565731.story
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

University of Miami Employee Allegedly Caught Red Handed Stealing More Than $14 Million in Cancer Drugs

By Michael L. Smith, J.D., R.R.T., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

For three years, hundreds of life-saving cancer drugs disappeared from the shelves of the University of Miami’s (UM) Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. A pharmacy technician at the center was arrested in connection to the thefts in May of 2011, and is accused of stealing more than $14 million in cancer drugs, according to the Miami Herald. The pharmacy tech faces four counts of grand theft, two counts of trafficking in contraband prescription drugs and one count of dealing in stolen property.

To read the entire article from the Miami Herald, click here.

Pharmacy had No System in Place to Keep Track of Supplies.

According to the Miami Herald, UM’s chief financial officer and a board member admitted that there were no controls at the cancer pharmacy to keep track of supplies. The pharmacy technician was apparently able to walk to refrigerators in the pharmacy and slip packages of Neulasta, a drug used by cancer patients, into his lab coat. Each box of Neulasta runs about $2,600 per dose. It’s obviously worth more than its weight in gold.

The fact that the pharmacy was missing hundred of syringes of drugs did not even get noticed until May 2011 when a pharmacy buyer at UM noticed something was off when she reviewed a new computer program that tracked drugs. The system showed hundreds of syringes full of Neulasta were missing from inventory. Since the new software was not reliable, the pharmacy buyer decided to hand-count the syringes. This was the first time anyone at the pharmacy noticed that drugs were missing.

Pharmacy Technician Used Lab Coat to Smuggle Drugs Out of the Pharmacy.

On June 1, 2011, hidden video surveillance cameras were installed in the pharmacy to view the refrigerators. On two separate occasions the cameras allegedly caught the pharmacy technician pocketing several boxes of Neulasta.

To see the security camera footage, click here.

The second time the pharmacy technician was allegedly captured on video, he was confronted and forced to hand over his lab coat containing the cancer drugs. He immediately confessed to selling the drugs and allowed investigators to search his home. There investigators found 163 doses of Neulasta and other cancer-fighting drugs. All together the drugs found had a value of more than $700,000, according to the Miami Herald.

It is currently unknown whether he will ever get his lab coat back. He may have to exchange it for a striped one or an orange jump suit.

Security and Controls Now Up To Par.

As soon as the theft was confirmed, security and inventory controls of pharmaceuticals at Sylvester were reviewed and strengthened, according to the Miami Herald. A follow up audit found that the pharmacy’s inventory controls are now sufficient.

The pharmacy is seeking reimbursement for losses from the employee and the pharmacy’s insurance.

Recent Article on Employee Embezzlement.

George F. Indest, another health attorney with our firm, recently wrote several articles on prevention of employee embezzlement. Although the articles are written for smaller health care providers than universities, many of the general principles contained in these would apply to larger employers, as well.

To see the Medical Economics article, click here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in DEA investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, administrative hearings, inspections and audits. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

What do you think of this story? What do you think of the fact that it took the university so long to find out the inventory was missing? Have you heard of people stealing drugs from pharmacies before? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Dorschner, John. “How Did $14 Million in Drugs Vanish from a UM Pharmacy?” Miami Herald. (August 6, 2012). From: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/06/2936916/how-did-14-million-in-drugs-vanish.html

Creamer, Alyssa. “University of Miami Employee, Manuel Pacheco, Allegedly Looted Pharmacy For Over $14 Million In Cancer Drugs.” Huffington Post. (August 9, 2012). From: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/09/um-employee-steals-14-million-cancer-drugs_n_1760155.html?view=print&comm_ref=false

About the Author: Michael L. Smith, J.D., R.R.T., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.

Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Boca Raton Compounding Pharmacy Shuts Its Doors After Receiving an Emergency Suspension Order

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On October 26, 2012, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) issued an emergency suspension order (ESO) against a Boca Raton compounding pharmacy, according to a number of sources. The DOH in a press release called the conditions in the pharmacy so “deplorable” that nothing short of immediately shutting down the pharmacy would suffice.

Click here to read the press release from the DOH.

Rodent Feces, Dead Bugs and a Sink Full of Dirty Water all Found at Compounding Pharmacy.

On October 12, 2012, a state inspector arrived at the Boca Raton compounding pharmacy for an inspection. According to an article on Health News Florida, rodent feces, dead bugs and a sink full of dirty water were discovered. A film of powder covered surfaces in the drug-compounding area, where containers of drugs were open. Information on patients and prescriptions was missing, and drug labels were missing important information on the dose, lot number and prescribing physician.

Apparently the compounding pharmacy had been cited in past inspections for similar issues.

To read the Health News Florida article, click here.

All Compounding Pharmacies Are Now Under Pressure.

The compounding pharmacy can have a DOH hearing before final action is taken. The suspension is in effect until final disciplinary action, until the suspension is lifted or the case is appealed.

This inspection and ESO occurred in the wake of a nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to contaminated drugs made by a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts. I previously wrote a blog on the Massachusetts compounding pharmacy shutting down. To read more click here.

It’s believed because of the meningitis outbreak, all compounding pharmacies are under the microscope.

Another Florida Compounding Pharmacy in Trouble Due to Fungal Growth.

I previously blogged about the problems encountered by Franck’s pharmacy in Ocala, Florida. It has been accused of distributing eye medications that contained a fungal infection. Click here for the first blog and here for the second blog I wrote on this.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

Do you think the Boca Raton compounding pharmacy was unfairly served with an ESO due to the meningitis outbreak? Or do you think it is better for the Florida DOH to be safe rather than sorry? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Gentry, Carol. “State Finds Pharmacy Conditions ‘Deplorable,’ Suspends License.” Health News Florida. (October 26, 2012). From: http://wusfnews.wusf.usf.edu/post/state-finds-pharmacy-conditions-deplorable-suspends-license

Florida Department of Health. “Department of Health Takes Action Against Florida Pharmacy.” DOH. (October 26, 2012). Press Release From: http://newsroom.doh.state.fl.us/wp-content/uploads/newsroom/2011/08/102612RejuviESO.pdf

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.

Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

New England Compounding Pharmacy Linked to Meningitis Outbreak Suspected of Violated License

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The compounding pharmacy behind the meningitis outbreak was allegedly not following the requirements of its state license, according to the Massachusetts Department of Health (DOH) in a released statement on October 10, 2012.

To read the entire statement from the Massachusetts DOH, click here.

The New England Compounding Center (NECC) shipped more than 17,000 vials of a steroid to pain clinics in 23 states, including Florida. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now reporting 214 cases of meningitis and 15 deaths associated with the fungal infection. NECC has surrendered its license and has recalled all medications. To see a blog I previously wrote about the recall and compounding facility shutting down, click here.

Under Law NECC Was Only Suppose to Produce Medication for Patient-Specific Prescriptions.

The Massachusetts DOH representative said under state law the NECC was only supposed to produce medications for patient-specific prescriptions. It is believed the company violated state law governing those pharmacies.

Apparently the DOH has had issues with the NECC prior to the outbreak. According to the statement, in 2006 the NECC received a warning letter from the Massachusetts DOH. The letter stated the company was operating more like a drug manufacturing firm than a compounding pharmacy.

All Compounding Pharmacies Now Under the Microscope.

On October 10, 2012, the Board of Pharmacy sent out an alert to all compounding pharmacies in Massachusetts to reinforce the state rules. The Board also issued an order requiring that all compounding pharmacies in the state sign an affidavit attesting compliance with all laws and regulations. The Massachusetts DOH officials do not believe any other pharmacies are operating outside of the rules, but said the alert was a precautionary measure.

Click here to see the alert from the Board of Pharmacy.

Compounding Pharmacy in Florida Faced Fungal Outbreak.

Florida has seen its share of fungal outbreaks. I previously blogged about the problems encountered by Franck’s pharmacy in Ocala, Florida. It has been accused of distributing eye medications that contained a fungal infection. Click here for the first blog and here for the second blog.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

What do you think of this story? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Smith, Michael. “Meningitis: Pharmacy in Outbreak Violated License.” MedPage Today. (October 11, 2012). From: http://www.medpagetoday.com/Neurology/GeneralNeurology/35276?utm_source=breaking-news&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=breaking-news

Biondolillo, Madeleine Dr. “Statement of Dr. Madeleine Biondolillo Director of the Bureau for Health Care Safety and Quality.” Department of Public Health Massachusetts (October 10. 2012). From: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/quality/boards/pharmacy-necc-biondolillo-statement.doc

Associated Press. “CDC: US Meningitis Outbreak Growing, 14 Dead.” Florida Today. (October 11, 2012). From: http://www.floridatoday.com/viewart/20121011/HEALTH/121011041/CDC-US-meningitis-outbreak-growing-14-dead?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CLocal%20News

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Most Physicians Not Using the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

By Danielle M. Murray, J.D.

The Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is apparently collecting dust as physicians are choosing not to use it. The Tampa Bay Times reported on October 5, 2012, that as few as one in twelve doctors have ever used the database. That is about eight percent (8%) of all physicians. Approximately fourteen percent (14%) of physicians are registered for the database.

Click here to read the entire story from the Tampa Bay Times.

Physicians Don’t Want to Use the Database.

Physicians interviewed for the article said the problem is that database use is not mandatory. Physicians are not required to review the database prior to accepting a new patient, or prior to giving out a prescription.  Some physicians said they would ask the pharmacy or check the local arrest records if they had a suspicion that the patient was abusing drugs or “doctor shopping.”

One potential reason that physicians may not check the database is simply that they don’t want to know.  If they know a patient is abusing prescription drugs, then that patient has to be sent away, and that is a loss of business. Another reason could be some doctors may not know the database exists, and other doctors may simply be too busy to bother.

In Some States the Database Is Mandatory.

The prescription drug database in Kentucky had a similar usage problem until the state made it mandatory for physicians to check the database.  A mandatory law in Ohio resulted in shock when physicians saw the reality of the large number of prescription drug abusers in their practices.

For the foreseeable future, using the database will not be mandatory for physicians. However, physicians should consider using the database, or otherwise remaining vigilant to avoid being labeled an overprescriber.

For legal tips for working with pain patients, click here.

Does the Database a Make it Easier to Prosecute?

From my perspective, I have seen the database in Florida used mostly as a tool for prosecution of pain management physicians and pharmacists. Even in cases where the pharmacist has been the one to notify the authorities of suspected forged prescriptions and where the pharmacist has cooperated in prosecuting the criminals, I have seen this database cited as evidence against him or her. I do not believe this is what the legislation intended.

Contact an Attorney Experienced in Department of Health (DOH) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Investigations.

As a health care professional, you may one day be charged with overprescribing narcotics or even criminally charged in the death of a patient due to their drug habits. If you are contacted by the Department of Health (DOH) or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), do not sign anything or make any statements to anyone. Call an experienced health law attorney to learn about your rights in such a case.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

As a physician, do you use the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program? Why or why not? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Source:

Cox, John Woodrow, “Florida Drug Database Intended to Save Lives is Barely Used by Doctors.” Tampa Bay Times. October 7, 2012. http://www.tampabay.com/news/health/florida-drug-database-intended-to-save-lives-is-barely-used-by-doctors/1255062

About the Author: Danielle M. Murray is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.

Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.