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Practicing Medicine Without a Medical License Lands Miami Couple Behind Bars

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

By now, you have heard stories of fake doctors and dentists in South Florida working on patients and causing severe injuries.

Usually, these are solo efforts. However, according to CBS Miami, a couple was arrested back in August of 2011, for practicing medicine without a license. The wife owned a clinic where the husband treated patients. The majority of the patients were children, but the fake doctor also apparently performed gynecological exams on female patients.

Click here to see the story from CBS Miami.

Phony Doctor’s Clinic Fooled Customers.

The clinic apparently looked legitimate to its customers, and other facilities would even refer patients there. A legitimate licensed physician, listed as the clinic supervisor, claims he was duped by the clinic and believed that the fake doctor was a nurse practitioner. The real physician also accuses the fake doctor of forging his signature.

The fake doctor holds only a license to operate x-ray machines. From a check on the Department of Health (DOH) website, that license expired seven years ago.

Real Physician Faces Charges for Assisting Fake Doctor.

The real physician was under investigation for his alleged involvement with the fake doctor and the clinic. Though the arrests happened in November 2011, the real physician was served with a complaint by the DOH just recently, on May 29, 2012.

Click here to see the real physician’s administrative complaint.

The real physician is accused by the DOH of assisting the fake doctor in his unlicensed practice of medicine. The outcome of the proceedings has yet to be seen.

Practicing Medicine Without A Legitimate License Is a Crime.

Practicing medicine without a license is a crime. Additionally, so is helping someone practice medicine without a license. As a practitioner, you may be asked to supervise or join a practice. Remember, your license may be at stake with any wrongdoing by your subordinates. Before you join a practice or agree to supervise others, check first with the DOH that the other providers are legitimate.  You can verify a license for free on the DOH’s website.

Remember, a license to practice medicine in Venezuela, Cuba, or anywhere else, is just that: a license to practice in that country. It does not allow a person to practice medicine in the United States.

More Stories on Fake Physicians and Other 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 blog on a fake South Florida dentist and the damage he inflicted on a teenage girl, click here. To read a blog on an infamous Florida teen impersonating a physician’s assistant (PA), click here. You can also read the story of a fake plastic surgeon in New York by clicking here.

Comments?

What do you think if this story? Leave a comment below.

Contact a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Representing Health Care Providers in DOH Cases.

If you find yourself working for or supervising someone that does not have a valid Florida license, your own license may be at risk. If and when the Department of Health (DOH) becomes involved, do not sign anything, do not speak to the investigators and do not make any statements. Contact an experienced health law attorney immediately to review your case.

The Health Law Firm represents dentists, pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses, and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Department of Health (DOH), and other law enforcement agencies.

If you are aware of an investigation of you or your practice, or if you have been contacted by the DEA or DOH, contact an experienced health law attorney immediately.

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

Sources:

CBS Miami. Accused Fake Doctor, Wife Bond Out of Jail. CBS Miami online. (August 25, 2011). From: http://miami.cbslocal.com/2011/08/25/police-arrest-accused-fake-doctor-in-miami/

About the Authors: 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.

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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South Florida Painkiller Network Newest Target in String of Florida Pill Mill Raids

Another South Florida pill mill was busted by federal agents this month, adding to Florida’s increasingly negative reputation as one of the worst drug trafficking states.

According to the Miami Herald, 24 people were indicted on charges of defrauding Medicare while distributing oxycodone and oxymorphone across Miami-Dade and Broward counties. These healthcare providers were involved in a distribution network allegedly worth $40 million.

Five pain management clinics in Miami, Hialeah and Plantation served as fronts for the fraud. A physician wrote prescriptions for oxycodone and oxymorphone to beneficiaries of Medicare and other prescription-drug insurance plans at these five clinics. Allegedly, these beneficiary patients were involved in the clinics’ scheme. The patients would then fill the prescriptions at certain pharmacies throughout Miami that were also involved in the network. When the prescriptions were filled, the pharmacy owners would bill Medicare, knowing that the drugs were unnecessary for the patients.

This bust follows a string of other DEA, DOH, and FDLE raids in Florida, including one in August. According to the Miami Herald, August’s Operation Oxy Alley involved pill mills being targeted as organized-crime for the first time. The country’s four largest pain clinics (located in Palm Beach and Broward Counties) were targeted, resulting in the arrest of 32 individuals, including 13 doctors.

Operation Pill Nation, the predecessor to Operation Oxy Alley, targeted pain management clinics in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. An effort to crackdown on Florida pill mills and drug trafficking perpetuated by medical clinics and doctors, Operation Pill Nation and similar investigations have resulted in the shutting down of clinics throughout South Florida according to the Palm Beach Post.

South Florida is not the only region where pill mills are running rampant. The entire state of Florida has been pegged by the DEA as one of the worst in terms of drug trafficking and about 85 percent of all oxycodone sold comes from Florida. Pain management clinics, pharmacies, pharmacists and doctors in Jacksonville, Melbourne, Mount Dora, Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach have been busted by Florida and federal agencies (DEA, DOH, FDLE) for unlawfully dispensing powerful narcotics, like oxycodone, to any patient that came in the door. In one instance, buyers of highly addictive oxycodone and Xanax, came all the way from Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee to get their fix at a Jacksonville pill mill.

The DEA and other federal and state agencies carry out relentless investigations in order to bust these clinics and doctors. Acting as patients, they may bribe a receptionist in order to immediately see a doctor, and then present unrelated symptoms in order to get a narcotics prescription. Drug companies also become involved in targeting pill mills, as they report any clinic or physician who orders narcotics in large quanities (like this Florida doctor who prescribed over 250,000 oxycodone pills in eight months).

Although the crackdown on pill mills and drug trafficking in Florida has eliminated many illegitimate practices, there have been serious consequences for any patient with real pain. Physicians are wary of writing any painkiller prescription, even for a patient whose pain warrants a stronger prescription.

If you are a pharmacist or physician dealing with pain management in Florida, be aware of the recent raids and learn more about what you can do to prevent the DEA, DOH, FDLE or local police from knocking on your door. Visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or read this article on the DEA‘s involvement in the healthcare field for more information.