By: Attorney Kristen Nelson
There are many situations where healthcare professionals may need to address legal issues, and many of the most serious and consequential cases will involve controlled substances, specifically, opioids. Doctors and other medical providers who prescribe medications may be accused of overprescribing. This may lead to investigations from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or other authorities, criminal charges, civil penalties, discipline to a person’s medical license, and other issues that may affect a person’s ability to continue practicing medicine. To address these issues, medical professionals can work with an attorney who is experienced in healthcare law.
Addressing Issues Related to Over Prescribing
Over-prescribing may include any situations in which controlled substances are prescribed or dispensed to patients and used for purposes above and beyond their accepted medical uses. In some cases, patients may engage in “doctor shopping,” in which they visit multiple providers in order to obtain prescriptions in excess of what would normally be allowed and use these drugs for personal purposes or sell them to others. Doctors or other medical providers may also be accused of operating “pill mills” and prescribing and dispensing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose, as part of an illegal drug distribution scheme or in return for additional compensation.
To avoid accusations of overprescribing, medical providers should be sure to follow the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board Opioid Prescribing Guidelines MEBGuideline.pdf (wi.gov) when prescribing controlled substances, especially opioids. Providers should review the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to verify patients are not “doctor shopping”, selling their pills or otherwise abusing controlled substances. Providers should also conduct periodic drug testing on patients and consider periodic pill counts for high-risk patients. Additionally, when prescribing opioids, providers should have an opioid agreement with patients outlining compliance expectations. A patient who violates this agreement, can be discharged from care. If a patient exhibits signs that they are at risk of overdosing or addiction, or it appears the controlled substances are being diverted, the provider should discontinue prescribing immediately and treat the patient for withdrawal, if needed.
Doctors will want to make sure they are providing the proper care when prescribing medications. Performing thorough examinations, reviewing a patient’s medical history and following the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board’s recommended guidelines will ensure that controlled substances or other medications can be prescribed appropriately.
Contact Our Milwaukee, WI Healthcare Law Attorneys
By understanding the risks that come with prescribing controlled substances and the steps they can take to protect themselves, medical providers can avoid or respond to accusations of overprescribing. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, we can provide legal representation in these cases, and we can help healthcare professionals defend against criminal charges, respond to administrative investigations, protect their medical licenses, and avoid civil claims. To learn more about how we can assist with these issues, contact our Milwaukee medical professional representation lawyers at 414-271-1440.