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Physicians, prescriptions, and prison time

Authorities have announced crackdown after crackdown on the issuance of certain prescriptions in an attempt to combat the opioid crisis. Although those behind these announcements are likely doing so with noble intentions, there is fallout. Stories abound of the unnecessary and sometimes insurmountable hurdles these efforts present for those who use similar medications for pain management or other legitimate medical purposes.

The efforts have led to more than just difficulty getting patients their prescriptions. They have also led authorities to accusing physicians of criminal activity.

When is a prescription a problem?

There are strict protocols when it comes to prescriptions. Physicians are monitored and a failure to meet the expected standard of care can result in everything from allegations of malpractice if the physician prescribes the wrong medication and it results in injury to criminal activity if the authorities believe the prescription was used illegally.

Although malpractice is a concern, it is important to make sure that physicians are also well aware of the possibility of criminal charges.

Physicians and prescription misuse: what are the penalties?

When it comes to allegations of criminal activity there are two distinct categories of penalties:

  • Criminal. Depending on the details of the allegations the physician can face hundreds of thousands in fines as well as potential imprisonment.
  • Professional. Physicians can also face professional repercussions that stem from the allegations and can include suspension or revocation of their medical license.

In a recent case, authorities accused a physician of wrongly prescribing a single patient over 100,000 oxycodone, hydrocodone, dextroamphetamine, and alprazolam, and similar medications. Upon review of the evidence, the court sentenced the family practice doctor to 60 months of imprisonment and the state bar revoked his medical license.

It is important to take such allegations seriously. They are unlikely to go away and can cause serious harm to your chosen profession. As such, it is wise to seek legal counsel to review your situation and discuss options to reach the best possible resolution.

Attorney John Rivas is responsible for this communication.