Recently in Florida, more than 50 doctors have been arrested for allegedly prescribing or dispensing unnecessary drugs to their patients. This crackdown was inspirited in part by the fact that seven fatalities have recently been reported stemming from prescription drug overdose.
Authorities are increasingly making related laws tougher, enacting stricter penalties and focusing on more intense enforcement of related drug crime laws targeting doctors who have allegedly over-prescribed and have allegedly thus violated proper standards of care.
For example, murder charges were recently brought against a Rowland Heights physician. The physician allegedly over-prescribed medication for a patient and the patient died. Experts feel that the alleged incident falls in a gray area; the question is whether it falls under the category of a criminal or medical malpractice case. Unfortunately, pressure is mounting to treat these cases as homicides or drug crime cases rather than as civil medical malpractice complaints.
Part of a physician’s job is to ensure their patients’ safety and to manage their diseases. When the doctors prescribe strong painkillers to patients, the doctors may believe that they are doing what is best for the patient. On the other hand, both patients and physicians should exercise caution when dealing with strong painkillers given the hazard risk for potential overdose.
A license to practice, the physician’s reputation and criminal record are all at stake if a doctor dispenses strong drugs in significant doses. It is important for physicians to be aware of the over-prescription crackdown currently taking place and for accused physicians to exercise their right to present a strong defense in order to protect their professional integrity.
Source: LosAngelesTimes, “Prosecution of doctor in overdose cases worries physicians,” Hailey Branson-Potts, Sept. 11, 2012