An investigation by your state medical board is a big deal. It can lead to steep fines and even a revocation of your medical license, making it impossible to continue your practice in that state. Unfortunately, this could just be the beginning. In some cases, an investigation by the medical board can serve as a precursor to a criminal investigation.
In a recent case, Long Island officials claim a local physician’s sale of prescription drugs was so egregious it rose to the level of criminal conduct. As such, officials have charged with five counts of murder in the second degree and 11 counts of reckless endangerment. He faces dozens of criminal charges, all in connection to his prescription practices. If convicted, he faces a life in prison.
Why is this important?
This is the first time the state of New York has attempted to hold a physician liable under the legal theory of depraved indifference to human life. If successful, officials could pursue similar charges against other practitioners in the state.
How can physicians protect themselves from similar charges?
In this case, the government states the physician ignored “please of his patients and family members” when he prescribed medications to patients who were “in the throes of addiction.” The prosecution states they can support these claims with evidence the physician went to extraordinary lengths to prescribe these dangerous medications to the addicted, including skipping medical exams and meeting with them in parking lots. This disregard, the prosecution claims, led to the death of five patients.
The government continues its crackdown on dangerous drugs, like opioids. They have expanded their reach to include those connected to prescribing these medications. As such, doctors who prescribe these medications must do so carefully. Make sure your practice is in line with the patient’s needs and the expectations of the medical community. It is also helpful to conduct a proactive internal audit to better ensure compliance and reduce the risk of allegations of wrongdoing within your practice.