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One important lesson from federal case against NY doctor

With certain professions come increased responsibility. Arguably one with the most responsibility is that of a physician. The ability to advise patients on healthcare options, lead procedures and prescribe medications can have a life-altering impact on the patient. As a result, the government holds these professionals to a very high standard when compared to the average citizen. This is achieved through the use of regulations that specifically apply to those within the medical profession.

One such regulation involves the ability to prescribe controlled substances. In order to do so, physicians must generally register with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). A failure to follow the regulations that come with the DEA registration can result in the loss of the ability to prescribe medications and additional penalties.

In a recent example, the U.S. DEA went after a New York psychiatrist for improper prescribing of ketamine and a failure to keep proper records. The record errors, according to the feds, included the following:

  • Name. The feds claim the psychiatrist did not consistently include the patient’s name in his records.
  • Amount. The government also states the physician failed to record the exact amount of controlled substance prescribed to each patient.
  • Inventory. The DEA also requires a regular inventory of controlled substances. The prosecution states the psychiatrist failed to ensure this was happening.

If nothing else, other medical professionals are wise to see this case as a reminder to make sure their own records involving controlled substances are in line with applicable regulations.

The government claims the physician provided additional prescriptions to patients under the agreement the patients would give the doctor some of the meds for his own personal use. When the government presented the evidence, the physician chose to accept a plea deal.

The judge sentenced the physician to 38 months imprisonment and forfeiture of almost $7,000. In addition to the criminal lawsuit, the physician was also the subject of a civil lawsuit for this same matter. In that suit, he agreed to pay the government $43,225.24.