WhiteCoat

More on Criminalizing Medicine

A Florida lawmaker is attempting to criminalize many aspects of medical care of pain patients, making some Florida pain management specialists and pharmacists at risk of ending up in jail.

Rep. Rob Schenck of Spring Hill, Florida created House Bill 7095.

According to this article in the Miami Herald, Rep. Schenck is proposing stiff penalties for “people who prescribe powerful narcotics like OxyContin, Xanax and Vicodin.” He is also proposing to make it a misdemeanor if pharmacies do not obtain copies of fraudulent prescriptions.
In the article, Rep. Schenck states that he proposed his legislation to save the 7-10 people who die from prescription drug overdoses each day in Florida.  You can tell the got a lot of input from practicing medical providers about this well thought out plan.

Section 1 of the bill allows the state to obtain copies of medical records from health providers or pharmacies if the state believes that practitioners or pharmacies are practicing below the standard of care, inappropriately prescribing or dispensing controlled substances, using inappropriate billing codes, or are inappropriately soliciting patients. Doesn’t say how reasonable the state’s belief must be before they can demand the records, only that the state has to have a belief.

Section 4 of the bill, among other things, makes it a third degree felony if a practitioner dispenses samples of any controlled substances without first writing the practitioner’s name, the patient’s name and the date dispensed on the package labeling. See the referenced statue here (.pdf file).

Section 9 of the bill makes  it a misdemeanor if any person employed by a pharmacy who knows or should have known that a patient is attempting to obtain controlled substances from the pharmacy through “fraudulent methods or representations” and does not report this “fraud” within 24 hours. The report must contain, “at a minimum,” copies of prescriptions, identifying information on the physician and the patient, and a “narrative” about the transaction, including video or photo surveillance of the transaction if available.
Being able to report drug seekers is one thing. Potentially going to jail if you don’t report them is quite another.
And how many people think that the state will jump into action and run right out to the drug seekers’ homes and arrest them? Bueller? Bueller … ? Bueller ….. ?

Section 18 of the bill basically states that “dispensing practitioners” who have purchased more than an average of 2000 unit doses of controlled substances per month from suppliers are going to be on the state’s hit list. The Department of Health is going to identify those practitioners that pose “the greatest threat to public health” and “coordinate with local and federal law enforcement agencies” to shake down go and place a friendly visit to those practitioners and “quarantine the controlled substance inventory of such dispensing practitioners on site.” Then they’ll seize and destroy any controlled substances they believe are not appropriate.

Florida laws already revoke the license of any physician hit with more than three malpractice judgments.
South Florida also happens to be fourth on the list of Judicial Hellholes in the United States.
Now Florida is taking steps to criminalize medicine and pharmacy.

I think I’ve figured out why I keep getting so many recruiting e-mails that need doctors to work at hospitals in Florida.

Why would anyone want to take a chance on practicing medicine in that state?

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53 Responses to “More on Criminalizing Medicine”

  1. Hueydoc says:

    Perhaps they should seek their healthcare from lawyers in Florida ?

  2. paul says:

    yep. when recruiters call me to ask if i or my colleagues want a florida job, my response is “i don’t know of anyone who is interested in working in that kind of legal climate”

    • Matt says:

      What’s the “legal climate”? How do you define that sort of thing?

      • WhiteCoat says:

        Mattuendo –

        More smoke and mirrors. “How do you define that sort of thing?” Gee, let’s try to pick some common issues that affect the medical malpractice marketplace.

        Go ahead, type http://www.google.com into your browser and do a little searching like you’ve done in the past when you want to prove a point. Interesting how you never do the searching and just ask rhetorical questions when the facts go against your assertions.

        First, type in “three strikes rule and medical malpractice.” Please list any other state that has a “three strikes” rule where doctors lose their licenses if payouts occur in three medical malpractice cases.

        Next type in “medical malpractice premiums by state”. Florida has some of the highest medical malpractice premiums in the country. Look at the EM Report Card that ACEP put out a couple of years ago. http://www.emreportcard.org. Average liability insurance for FL primary care docs is $42,000/year versus $16,000/year average in the US. Specialists in FL pay $171,000/year versus average of $65,000/year in the US.

        And insurers are just flocking to Florida due to the high profit margins and low payouts. Florida has 2.1 insurers writing policies per 1000 docs when the national average is 9.1 per 1000 docs.

        Now legislature is pursuing criminal charges against physicians and pharmacists.

        Yeah, the “legal climate” is just peachy. However you want to define it.

      • Matt says:

        Again, your grasp of English is tenuous, or your willful ignorance is obvious. “How do you define that sort of thing” is a pretty straightforward question.

        For example, I would think it would include knowing things like the number of suits in Florida over time; number of judgments; how often the juries find for physicians v. plaintiffs, and perhaps a review of those cases. That would give me JUDICIAL information.

        You give me gross numbers on malpractice insurance premiums, but that doesn’t really tell me what the judicial system is – just that the insurers are charging more. Their returns on investments, their payouts, etc. aren’t provided. You seem to know a lot more about insurance payouts (which because you’re a shill for the industry makes sense) than you do about the law.

        Strangely, you seem to know little about the actual business of insurance – they probably like to keep you in the dark on that, though. No one likes an educated shill – they might lose faith. So, for example, you know little about payouts in Florida – frequency; size per type of injury; the nature of the risk pools. Nor do you know much about the investment decisions of Florida insurers (which is effectively how they make their money). So really, you know next to nothing about their legal climate, have at best half a picture of their insurer situation, but have formed a WHOLE opinion on their juries and their legal system. Hell of a way to form an opinion.

        You also cite gross numbers for physician expenses, like malpractice insurance. Yet you don’t want to tell us the incomes for some reason. Despite your claims, as recently as 2006, Florida was in the middle of the pack in physicians per capita (all physicians, not just the nonfederal) at 27. If you take out the nonfederal ones (who, since they’re not subject to state law actions would not be effected by the “legal climate”) Florida is still 27th. So somehow, physicians are able to afford these premiums.

        So, at this point we don’t know what the legal climate is, or at least you haven’t given us the information. You’ve given us a little insurance info though, and I guess that’s helpful. Maybe they’ll issue you some more talking points soon that give us better picture though.

      • Matt says:

        Also, Florida has caps. Perhaps not as low as you’d like to discourage all the poor folks who can’t pay for attorneys by the hour, but they do have them.

      • WhiteCoat says:

        A lawyer who can’t define a “legal climate”? Then asking a doctor to define it for him? Puhleeze. Who are you trying to kid?

        Do explain how the number of suits filed, the number of judgments, and the percentage of plaintiff verdicts says anything about the “JUDICIAL information.” Once again, your logic makes little sense, but I’m sure you’ll try to create some tenuous relationship between judges and a plaintiff’s willingness to file lawsuits to “prove” your point. Can’t wait.

        Your diatribe about the insurance industry and how it has its money invested is about as relevant as whether the amount of rainfall in the African basin reaches 31 inches by May 1. Who cares why the rates are so high? The fact is that malpractice premiums are 2.5 to 3 times higher in Florida. If doctors get successfully sued three times, they lose their licenses.

        So help your Florida bretheren out by keeping the herds of potential victims heading to Florida to practice. Why don’t you stay on point and give all the medical practitioners who read this blog some reasons to go practice in Florida?
        Pay scale is in the bottom 50th percentile. Anything else?

      • Matt says:

        The term “legal climate” has no fixed meaning. It’s a lobbyist term, and I wanted to see how the insurance lobby had told you to use it. Clearly you meant “insurance climate”, which is what I figured.

        “Do explain how the number of suits filed, the number of judgments, and the percentage of plaintiff verdicts says anything about the “JUDICIAL information.””

        Is this a serious question? That’s what the judiciary actually does. It takes claims from the public and adjudicates them. So knowing how many claims were filed, how many judgments were reached, and the prevailing party, would tell us quite a bit of judicial information. It’s apparently information the insurance industry hasn’t given its shills, though. Wonder why?

        “our diatribe about the insurance industry and how it has its money invested is about as relevant as whether the amount of rainfall in the African basin reaches 31 inches by May 1.”

        Ummm, don’t look now, but you’re the one who was citing all the insurance statistics. Well, at least what they told you. Don’t be mad at me because they’ve only given you half the picture. As always, a good place for you to start would be Warren Buffet’s letters to his shareholders. They have an easy to read, plain English overview of how it works. And I believe Berkshire owns one of the nation’s largest med mal insurers.

        “The fact is that malpractice premiums are 2.5 to 3 times higher in Florida.”

        Higher than what? Your sentence makes no sense. And again, that tells us about insurance – not the judiciary. We have no idea if those premiums are high due to investment losses, increased payouts, etc. And apparently, neither do you.

        “Why don’t you stay on point and give all the medical practitioners who read this blog some reasons to go practice in Florida?”

        My friend, that’s your job. I don’t care if you go to Florida or not. I don’t live there. Convincing you to go there wasn’t my point – I was simply noting the ridiculousness of you buying into the tobacco lobby’s nonsense. A group that actively combats organizations like state heart and lung health nonprofits. All because you think it will save you a few dollars on your premiums.

    • Matt says:

      Sorry, my bad, the American Tort Reform Foundation told you. Oh, how I’d love to see their donor list to see who you’re relying on there. We know the tobacco and insurance industry almost certainly. Who else you think?

      • WhiteCoat says:

        More innuendos.

      • Matt says:

        Are you having trouble reading again? Do you really not know that the tobacco industry funded most of these tort reform organizations? They ran it through the law firm of Covington & Burling, where your buddy Philip K. Howard, founder of Common Good, is a partner.

        No innuendo at all – all the tobacco documents are online. You can search them at the link below. There are memos detailing the payments, the routing through C&B, and the recipient organizations. Tens of millions if not more.

        You mean your buddies in the insurance industry didn’t tell you?!?!?!

        http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/

        Here’s a fun document you can get just by searching “Philip K. Howard” in their library:

        http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/oty03e00/pdf?search=%22philip%20k%20howard%22

        It’s about a PR battle against the Arizona Lung Association and Arizona Heart Association among others, and one of the ways they do it is by getting Mr. Howard to come speak about their side of the danger of smoking.

        I like this one too: http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/ghu28d00/pdf?search=%22tort%20reform%20fund%20covington%20burling%22

        I think these are great folks for you physicians, you healers, to be in bed with, don’t you?

      • EDL says:

        Why don’t you try having a real discussion instead of sarcastic straw man plays that sound like they were written by a seventeen year old?

      • Matt says:

        I wish he would, but I’m afraid that’s just how he responds. “Innuendo” is WC code for “I don’t have a response nor can I refute the facts.”

        You can try asking him for a real discussion if you want. But I’m warning you, when the facts don’t support his preconceived opinions, he’ll run.

        If you want the link to the documents showing the tie between tobacco and the tort reform industry, they’re in another post. But you can just google “tobacco documents” and then there’s a search function on the site. It’s interesting/sad reading.

      • Eric says:

        Matt, I’m confused – why does the donor list of the American Tort Reform Foundation have anything to do with anything?

        So, doctors are bad/hypocrites because one particular nonprofit with a goal that would benefit physicians – in only one sector of the entire spectrum of political activism that physicians are involved in – is also supported by some not-so-admired industries?

        Does the AMA, ACEP, or any other medical professional association even donate to the ATRF? Even if they do donate to ATRF it’s immaterial. Just because many physicians would benefit if the ATRF’s goals are realized doesn’t mean that doctors are pro-cigarettes or in favor of abusive practices by the health insurance industry – I would say quite the opposite.

      • Matt says:

        “Matt, I’m confused – why does the donor list of the American Tort Reform Foundation have anything to do with anything?”

        You noted WC’s claim about “judicial hellholes” in the original post? That’s the organization who he relies upon to reach such conclusions – you’ll note he really has no idea how to define it, he’s just regurgitating what they feed him.

        “So, doctors are bad/hypocrites because one particular nonprofit with a goal that would benefit physicians – in only one sector of the entire spectrum of political activism that physicians are involved in – is also supported by some not-so-admired industries?”

        I don’t think physicians are bad. However, I’m not sure how limiting damages benefits physicians – maybe their insurers (along with the tobacco industry), but not necessarily physicians. And this is one of the top 3 political activities physicians are involved in. Not just a speck on the “entire spectrum”.

        I was simply pointing out that phrases like “judicial hellhole” are mere lobbyist-speak. Meaning nothing, really. It’s no different than arguing physicians are “too wealthy”. What is “too wealthy”?

        “Even if they do donate to ATRF it’s immaterial. Just because many physicians would benefit if the ATRF’s goals are realized doesn’t mean that doctors are pro-cigarettes or in favor of abusive practices by the health insurance industry”

        If you advocate for things that primarily benefit those industries, and get in bed with their lobbyists, how do you distinguish yourselves from them? How do you argue you don’t support their goals if they are the same as yours? Although, really, physicians are just the face of their movement.

    • paul says:

      you are entitled to your opinion that it is safe for me to practice in florida, as i am entitled to my opinion that it is not.

      in the end, whether people in florida get my help or not will only be influenced by one of our opinions (hint: not yours)

      • Matt says:

        I don’t care if you do or not. I don’t live there. It makes me a little nervous when I see someone whose stock in trade is diagnosis make snap decisions using questionable info. But I recognize politics can create emotions that aren’t based on reason. Really, I just hope wherever you go that you’re happy. Sincerely.

  3. VA Hopeful says:

    Actually, I’m OK with this. Talk to the pain management docs in places not Florida about Florida.

    Plus, doctors dispensing schedule 2 drugs (narcotics, not testosterone) out of their office… how is that not sketchy?

    • Matt says:

      Shhh. All doctors are good and should never have to answer to anyone.

    • KT says:

      Hmm…I think this is a good concept but the wrong way to go about it. First of all, people still DO need medications like oxycontin.

      On the other hand, when I read American medical/pharmacy blogs, I’m often surprised about how…well…”lax” prescribing and dispensing practices seem to be compared to Australia. I also consistently remain surprised about the extreme cost of medication and health services.

      • drhawk says:

        KT

        Actually, I trained and practiced in australia before coming back to the USA. I believe the practices in australia are even more lax. What you need to remember is that anybody in australia can walk into any chemist (pharmacy) and get over the counter panadeine forte (tylenol w/ codeine), neurofen plus, etc.

        In the USA, all narcotics are controlled and must be prescribed. This has its plus and minus points, but we do tend to be a bit more puritanical about things like opiates and drugs than australia

      • KT says:

        Actually, you have never been able to get panadeine forte over the counter. Panadeine (12.5mg codiene/500 paracetemol) used to be available over the counter, it is now only available through speaking to the pharmacist directly (along with other codeine combinations) for a maximum of 5 days without a prescription. I’m not sure if it has happened or not yet, since I no longer work in pharmacy, but we currently have a state wide system for the sale of pseudoephedrine (so you can check when and where this persons last sale of a pseudoephedrine containing product was), and the same is system is coming into effect for codeine containing products.

        Also, all medications must be kept behind the counter, so it’s not as easy as walking in and getting what you want. The staff are all trained in the sale of medication (now a legal requirement), and are under the supervision of a pharmacist for the sale of any medication.

    • WhiteCoat says:

      I don’t have a problem regulating dispensing of Schedule 2 meds from the office. But criminalizing a subjective call on whether the meds were overprescribed? That doesn’t pass the smell test.

      Right idea, wrong process.

      Want to control the problem?
      Make it a felony to obtain more pain medication than they are supposed to be prescribed in a month.
      Do like Tennessee does and make it a crime to obtain scheduled prescriptions from more than three providers in a month or to obtain scheduled prescriptions from one doctor without notifying the doctor that you have received scheduled prescriptions from another doctor.
      Or if they really want to crack down, create state-run regional narcotic dispensaries that track patients and their medications. No more of this doctor/pharmacy hopping.

  4. Hueydoc says:

    You need to pull a HuffPo and censor Matt out …….

  5. Nurse K says:

    Florida is a special situation. Lots of pill mills. From what I’ve heard, patients just queue up outside and pay cash to get whatever they want with no medical exam, no documentation, no nothing. These “pain management specialists” don’t offer anything else that true pain specialists offer, like trigger point injections, etc. I say lock ‘em up!!! How do we expect the patients to comply with laws like you suggest when doctors don’t get punished for running a drug-dealing mill?

  6. Doc Edwards says:

    Matt appears to be the very same notorious lawyer troll at other medical blogs I read.

    • DensityDuck says:

      For all that Matt purports to be a badass lawyerman, he certainly has a lot of time to post on medical blogs!

      • Matt says:

        When did I purport to be a “badass lawyerman”? My billboard only says “semi-badass lawdog”. “Badass lawyerman” was copyrighted.

        Funny how you guys always want to attack me personally, but never discuss the merits with, you know, the facts.

      • DensityDuck says:

        Every time someone comes in with facts, you immediately claim that since we weren’t for the testimony we can’t be sure of anything about the situation.

      • Matt says:

        If you’ve not seen the records in a case or heard the expert testimony, what facts would you have about the merits of the case or lack thereof?

        I didn’t think that conclusion required any advanced degrees. That’s just common sense.

  7. Eric says:

    From page 9 of the staff analysis from the Health & Human Services Committee, 03/19/11:

    “The following chart reports the dispensing of oxycodone and methadone by physicians in Florida
    compared to physicians in the rest of the country. The population of Florida accounts for less than 6
    percent of the total population of the United States, but Florida has 11 percent of the physicians who dispense oxycodone, and almost 50 percent of the physicians who dispense methadone in the U.S. Physicians in Florida dispense more than 85 percent of the oxycodone U.S., and over 93 percent of the methadone dispensed by physicians in the U.S.”

    Just from a lowly medical student’s perspective: sounds like Florida’s got some serious narcotics problems that need to be addressed, and looks like the root of the problem is crooked physicians. *gasp* who could have thought that such an august body as the medical profession could be tainted by such scandal?

    WC I don’t see why you’re so riled up about this. If physicians in one state is responsible for 85% of the oxy and 93% of the methadone prescribed in the nation, there’s obviously something wrong with those physician’s prescribing practices. It’s a public health danger.

    • WhiteCoat says:

      I’m not riled up about prosecuting docs who inappropriately prescribe pain medications. I haven’t reviewed all Florida laws, but I can’t imagine that there isn’t already something on the books that allows Florida prosecutors to go after pill mills.
      Note what’s happening, though.

      First, you start down a slippery slope. State can come in and demand any records they want from any doctor. How do they determine whether doctors are practicing proper medicine? Nothing in there about consulting with state medical board or anything like that. Just give us your records. What’s next if the state doesn’t think that is decreasing the number of addicts enough?

      Then, it’s a crime (judged in a retrospective manner by the way) for anyone working in a pharmacy who doesn’t report a fraud if they know or “should have known” that fraud was involved. How do you think that the prosecutors are going to prove that a pharmacist “should have known” about a fraud? They’ll look at every person who allegedly dies from a drug overdose, see what pharmacies that patient went to, and then shake the staff down because they “should have known” that the patient was getting excessive doses of medication and therefore it must have been through fraudulent representations.

      Will every pharmacist end up in jail? Of course not. But look at what precedent it sets and look at the power that the prosecutors can leverage over pharmacists now. Cooperate or you could go to jail for up to a year.

      Then it allows the state to go into a doctor’s office, seize the doctor’s medications and destroy them. What criteria are used? The prosecutor’s “judgment”.

      It scares me about the power the state is granting itself in the name of “public safety” when there are multiple other rational and less Kafkaesque means to accomplish that goal.

      Here’s an idea: Effective May 1, 2011, make it illegal for physicians to dispense Schedule 2, 3, or 4 controlled substances from their offices. Addiction specialists must work through a hospital. Is that so hard?

      • Matt says:

        “then, it’s a crime (judged in a retrospective manner by the way)”

        All crimes are adjudicated retrospectively. How would you prefer we investigate and try people charged with crimes? By guessing what they’ll do in the future and then sentencing? Wouldn’t that be more Kafkaesque than actually investigating what DID happen (retrospectively, of course).

  8. ndenunz says:

    Hate to go against you on this WC, but talk to addictionologists about Florida. They may change your mind.

    • WhiteCoat says:

      If they’re overprescribing, I have no problem with sanctioning them. Go to the state medical board and get their licenses yanked. There should already be safeguards in place to prevent abuse. Use them. Don’t use the problem as a pretense to create an even bigger police state.

      • Matt says:

        Forgive us in the public if we’re not all that confident in the state medical boards. Considering they license convicted drug abusers to continue practicing, they may not be the best arbiters of public safety. They certainly shouldn’t be the only.

      • The Manatee says:

        I have to agree with Matt on this one. I have the same amount of faith in the state medical boards that I do in the state bar associations.

    • Nurse K says:

      So you say that doctors should be able to deal drugs all they want and not face criminal prosecution? Special treatment? What’s the difference if a false “clinic” is set up and a MD gives out 100 prescriptions-for-cash a day for narcotics vs. having 100 dudes in hoopties pull up the the porch and get the same stuff?

      These doctors kill patients for their own greed.

      • WhiteCoat says:

        If they have drive through pill mills, then there are presumably both state and federal laws that they are violating and they should go to jail for drug dealing.
        I’m not saying that no medical provider should ever go to jail. I’m saying that there are better ways to create the desired changes without criminalizing the practice of medicine.
        They’ll get their drug dealers behind bars, but overenthusiastic prosecutors will also snare many docs who are legitimately trying to help patients in pain. Once that happens, good luck getting pain relief from your bone cancer, lady. Too risky to prescribe high-dose pain medications.

        If we’re going to protect the public by criminalizing actions that potentially kill people, then …
        Lets put all the McDonalds workers in jail if they serve too much food to obese customers. Obesity kills.
        Put bartenders in jail for serving alcohol to anyone whose alcohol level is more than 0.08. They could get into a car and kill themselves or someone else.
        Put car manufacturers and the assembly line workers in jail for making a vehicle that goes faster than 55 mph. Driving faster kills people, you know.
        See how once you step down the slippery slope of criminalizing services for the sake of public safety sometimes you can’t stop sliding?

  9. throckmorton says:

    Rule 21: Pain does not kill, pain medications kill.

    “Remember pain is the other vitals signs and be certain to record it according to all JACHO and CMS regulations.” I see sir, your pain is 11 on a scale of 10. According to JACHO and CMS this should be treated, there now. Did that Oxy help your pain? Oh, you say it is still a 10.?” What, the evil doctor did not help you with your pain? Let me file a lawsuit on your behalf for the pain and suffering you endured becuase your pain was 11. It should be a slam dunk becuase it is part of JACHO mandates. Oh, you are now addicted to pain medications, Ill bet I can file another suit. Oh, you are addicted to pain medications because you kept complaining of pain and getting them? That must be the doctors fault.

    Long and short of it. Pain is part of life. Pain medications due not have to be part of it. Pain prevention is now a focus of CMS and JACHO and therefore its treatment is encouraged. To get a grip on prescription pain medication abuse, we have to accept that there will be pain.

  10. Anon Doc says:

    I had no idea. My wife and I are both docs, and in the process of selling our home in the midwest. We’ve been planning to move to one of the coasts, semi-retire and work part time. FL was a contender, but no more. Thank you for this.

    • Hueydoc says:

      Try Corpus Christi…

    • Matt says:

      Given that Florida rates are going to vary widely by county/region, I don’t know why you’d knock a state off based on the little information provided here, mostly by people trying to frighten others into not supporting some bill to hold doctors liable for overprescribing.

      Seems a poor way to write off a whole state, but to each his own.

  11. kg says:

    As a pharmacy tech in Georgia, we get a lot of presciptions from “pain clinics” in Florida. A recent training class informed that customers pay $100 to get in the door to these “clinics” and up to $200 more based on what narcotics they desire prescriptions for. A doctor is on location, but may or may not “examine” the customer. Area pharmacies are overrun with these customers, and I can almost guarantee that the chain pharmacy employees (whose standard it sometimes is to operate on the up-and-up) would love for the pill mills to go away. They bring unsavory people and exponentially decrease our job satisfaction.

    • Hueydoc says:

      And when the pillmills are closed, these people come out of the woodwork like roaches out of coolege kids bugbombed kitchen…

  12. Hueydoc says:

    Matt- remember what I said about ” bad attention”?

    • Matt says:

      I can’t figure you out – you bitch constantly about me, want to ban me, but are reading every word and then addressing me personally. Weird.

  13. Pharmacist Adam says:

    As a pharmacist in Georgia, I can’t begin to tell you the problem we have here with this. While most of our pill mills are local, the “patients” are coming from all over the Southeast- mostly Kentucky and Tennessee. The physicians in those states are so scared to write for narcotics that the patients come here. I can spot these people as they walk up to the counter. The scripts are always for 180 Oxycodone 30mg, 120 Xanax 2mg, and sometimes some Soma. One of the docs is directly behind my store and I still don’t fill his prescriptions. Last week, I got a call from a pharmacist in West Virginia with a script from this guy- and the patient had a Kentucky address. The doctor called me once to ask me why we don’t fill his prescriptions and I told him that we had information that he was under investigation. He told me that the DEA, Sheriff, GDNA (like state DEA- with gun-toting pharmacist “agents”!) all had been to his office and he was NOT under investigation. My question- why were they there then?

    As to the issue here- putting pharmacists in jail. This is just bad policy. We cannot begin to try to ascertain whether they were obtained fraudulently. I’ve had many patients arrested for passing forged prescriptions, but calling the cops every time I get a pill mill script would take all of my time. So for now, I’ll just continue to tell these patients I don’t have the drugs. They have been to 10 pharmacies before me and now believe there is a shortage of oxycodone.
    I once filled a script for a doctor I was unfamiliar with that I believed was legitimate. I even called to check. Not two minutes later, 3 more patients walked in the door from the same small town in Kentucky, from the same doctor, with the same prescriptions. Should I go to jail or lose my license now?

    • Pharmer09 says:

      I am a pharmacist here in the panhandle of Florida. Let me tell you all of this is TRUE. It is a scary, scary time to be a pharmacist in Florida. The pharmacists down in South Florida don’t even stock the medications anymore for fear of being robbed. When I first started seeing all these scripts roll in, I googled phone numbers and started calling pharmacies in those areas. They seem scared to death to me. They all warned me not to touch them saying once I started filling them every drug seeker in the state would run to my pharmacy. I have only been licensed less than two years and graduating was like being slapped in the face. I received little training and was thrown to the wolves by myself with no one with experience to ask questions.

      More and more pharmacy schools are trying to open up. Hundreds of students graduate every year. The market is flooding with pharmacists. Although many companies have your back when it comes to filling those scripts, you still feel a lot of pressure to fill them. I had one district manager tell me that “a script is a script.” So, aside from daily pressures, you have corporate pressure on one end and law enforcement on the other end. Plus, screaming customers/patients are in your face daily cussing you and your technicians threatening that they are going to call your district manager to have you fired if you don’t fill these scripts. I am scared for my job daily because I know there are tons of new graduates in line for my job.

      Now, I am reading that I may be sent to prison if I accidentally fill one of these scripts in the zoo that is everyday life in a pharmacy. Add increasing script volume, decreased technician hours, and 15 minute wait times to all this and there is no wonder why prescription errors are becoming a problem. That is what we will be threatened with going to prison for next. :(

  14. Bumper says:

    I guess the concept of a prescription monitoring program never crossed the minds of the dim-wits. If a backwards state like Louisiana can implement one surely there is someone in the great state of Florida who could put one together.

    Oh, they really don’t want to stop these practices, they just want to smoke and mirror it and keep raking in the taxes and political contributions.

    Never mind.

  15. [...] War on painkillers could turn many more Florida docs, druggists into criminals [White Coat] [...]

  16. donna says:

    Was hired from New England to work for Florida paper. We had a big retirement community in area and the doctor shopping was rampant. Yes, these were seniors who had a variety of ills and the VAST MAJORITY were normal, sane patients.
    But there was a group that was out to get whatever Sked II drugs they could get. Unfortunately, there were places where they could get them, even without need.
    Now these are nice senior folks, and if Grandpa wants to get a legal high or low no skin off anyones nose…until they started driving.
    Anyway, flash forward a couple of years, and I have a serious medical condition. Said paper fires me and I wind up in Alabama (a very nice state) I have had two major surgeries in the past year (unrelated to each other and the aforementioned illness).
    Both times, my doc has prescribed vicodin afterward. I took far less than prescribed (about eight total of the 60 dispensed)
    Now if I were still in Florida, that would possibly be illegal. So, I would be in pain, hindering my recovery. So what could my doc give me? Or would I have to stay in the hospital?
    Why do people who need narcotics for legitimate uses suffer because there is a subset of I-dots who have to abuse drugs?
    Stupid, stupid, stupid. And I am glad I am not in Fla.

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