Federal agents recently arrested a New York cardiologist as part of a large national sting. Prosecutors have accused the physician of illegally distributing prescription pain pills. The prosecutors state the physician, who has worked at a hospital in the Syracuse area for approximately three months, worked with another doctor and nurse practitioner while employed at his previous practice in Tennessee to improperly prescribe opioids.
Although not yet convicted of the crime, the hospital has put the medical professional on administrative leave.
Did the physician illegally prescribe pain pills? The details are a bit unclear. According to one report, it appears the physician would sign off on requests made by the nurse practitioner for patient prescriptions of opioids without thoroughly reviewing the records.
If true, the physician could argue he did not prescribe the medications. This would be a difficult argument as state law requires the attending physician to review these records before signing off on the prescription request.
Are more arrests likely? Yes. This arrest was part of a larger federal operation. The sting, targeting physicians and other medical professionals that face accusations of illegally prescribing pain medications, resulted in the arrest of over 60 doctors and pharmacists.
Furthermore, the federal government will likely continue its crackdown on those who are not following proper protocol when prescribing pain pills, particularly opioids.
This most recent arrest serves as a reminder for physicians, pharmacists and other medical professionals to review their prescription policies and make adjustments as needed to better ensure their practices are in line with applicable regulations.