When Doctors do Harm

Most of the topics found on mypainweb.com share multiple common denominators.   Topics become complicated & controversial as they are all interconnected to one another.

The subject of doctors that commit prescription medication crime is probably one of the more emotionally charged Chronic Pain topics.

Pointing the obligatory “finger of blame” towards those within our society for whom we hold in such high esteem, and for which we owe so much gratitude, is considered by many to be “taboo”.

In my years of learning how to manage my own Chronic Pain, the headline of doctors committing prescription medication crimes was somewhat rare.  Though infrequent, the damage these particular crimes caused patients and their families were devastating.  A loss of quality of life and sometimes even death were a common outcome from just a few doctors who were motivated by personal gain to practice “bad medicine”.

The audacity of these few doctors to disregard their “Oath” and place their patients directly in the path of danger earned these few doctors their own “strand” within the painweb.

Millions of Chronic Pain sufferers, like myself, seek out doctors to provide relief.  We understand there are no guarantees for the outcomes of the medical treatments and procedures prescribed by our doctor.  Some patients achieve good results while others do not.  But, what we do expect, without exception, is our doctor’s delivery of practicing medicine while upholding their “Oath”.  Keeping us safe and preserving the sacred trust we place in them must never be a secondary consideration.

Without question, the vast majority of doctors would never think of practicing medicine in a hurtful manner. We stand proud knowing our doctors serve as pillars of our community.  Hardworking caregivers who tirelessly stand by their oath “to do no harm”.

 

Curious as to what a “Hippocratic Oath” is?  

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Click on the following link to learn about Hippocrates & The Oath:

Hippocratic Oath

 

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An ominous trend…..

With that being said, it’s important to discuss a growing trend of doctors intentionally committing prescription medication crimes.

While it’s true the numbers of doctors committing these crimes are minimal, many believe this a contributing factor of our National Health crisis of prescription medication addiction, overdose deaths, and Chronic Pain.

The breaking of the “Oath” by these doctors destroys the lives of thousands of patients along with the lives of their families.  This burden on our society reaches well into the billion$ in the form of extensive healthcare required to treat these patients along with associated legal action and lost productivity.

 

An important point here….

This discussion DOES NOT reflect those doctors who practice medicine wisely, safely, & skillfully, but whose patients still experience worsening or even tragic results. Accidents happen. Infrequent mishaps & mistakes are a reality.

You’re right….it’s a two-way street…

It’s also important to understand that those patients who choose to disregard proper medical advice given to them by their doctor, and thus, experience worsening, and sometimes tragic outcomes, are also excluded.  Doctors should not be held responsible, or liable, for unfortunate outcomes from patients who don’t follow or blatantly ignore sound medical directions from their doctor.

Caution should be exercised in those cases involving dishonest patients that don’t give truthful answers to their doctor’s questions.  Cases that involve Doctor’s that seem to knowingly accept patient dishonesty deserves scrutiny. Ignoring some obvious unscrupulous patient behavior will only lead to more tragic consequences for all parties: patient, doctor and society.

This discussion focuses on those few doctors that knowingly practice unsafe medicine.  I am confident that once you read through the following you will agree these prescription medication crimes committed by doctors must be reported with efforts put forth to reverse this growing trend.

 

How many doctors are we talking about?

Not so easy to answer as reporting of Doctors accused of prescription medication crime is inconsistent.

In 2013, the Office of the Inspector General of Health & Human Services issued a report identifying 700 physicians as having “questionable” Part D prescribing patterns.

Here are a few of these “questionable” Doctors: 

A California physician wrote 151 times the average number of prescriptions, for a take of $9.7 million from Medicare.

A Tennessee practitioner wrote an average of eight prescriptions for Schedule II drugs for each of 427 Medicare beneficiaries, who filled the prescriptions at 368 different pharmacies — which would make detection of this aberrant pattern more difficult to catch.

Patients of an Illinois physician filled prescriptions from him in 47 states and Guam. And a Florida physician prescribed a 605-day supply of morphine, a 524-day supply of oxycodone, a 460-day supply of fentanyl, and a 347-day supply of hydromorphone to the same patient.

These are just a few sample patterns of concern identified within just Medicare.

You can read much more at the following link:

Stopping Dr. Feelgood: The Challenge of Overprescribing

By Emily Friedman. First published in Hospitals & Health Networks Daily on February 4, 2014

 

Do no harm

Mary Beth Pfeiffer with The Poughkeepsie Journal published a report identifying the seriousness of this problem in their area.

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This report also looks at the sentences given to those doctors found guilty:

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Click on the following link to review the entire report:

Poughkeepsie Journal Painkillers Do No Harm Dealers Doctors

 

The Poughkeepsie Journal created the “Killers & Pain” website to document ongoing prescription crimes by Doctors.

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You can access the “Killers & Pain” website at the link below:

Killers & Pain

 

Keeping it in perspective……

It is important to remember that health care’s serial killers are extreme rarities. There are 3.5 million nurses in the United States, and 878,194 physicians have active licenses. The overwhelming majority are committed, skilled healers who would never knowingly harm a patient.

Another report written By Emily Friedman titled does an excellent job further discussing these point.

Click on the following link to read this report:

“Failure All Around: How Do We Identify and Stop Rogue Practitioners?”

 

Who is responsible for this effort?

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

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The mission of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any other competent jurisdiction, those organizations and principal members of organizations, involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States; and to recommend and support non-enforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances on the domestic and international markets.

Click on the following link to learn more about the DEA:

DEA

 

The DEA’s case load involving doctors:

The DEA conducted 1,173 investigations in 2009 and 3,731 in 2010.

During 2003, the agency reported 15 physician arrests that resulted in convictions. By 2008 the number had grown to 43 (source: Reuters)

As previously mentioned, not large numbers, but an increase in the wrong direction.  Remember too, it’s common for a doctor to have hundreds or even thousands of patients.

The following link is a listing of investigations of physician registrants in which DEA was involved that resulted in the arrest and prosecution of the registrant:

DEA Cases Against Doctors

 

Is there a War on Doctors?

Some believe there is an unfair targeting of doctors by the DEA and other law enforcement groups.  An unintended consequence of such targeting is “fear” among doctors resulting in their limiting or the stopping of prescribing pain medication.  When this happens, the Chronic Pain patient may have no options to obtain their needed pain medication.  Some of these individuals may have no choice but to pursue illegal narcotics.

The following link does a good job explaining this “War On Doctors” viewpoint:

The War on Doctors

 

What medications are being prescribed in your area?

You can use the following link to see who is prescribing what medication in your area:

Prescriptions by State Search

 

Here are a few of the more recent headlines reporting doctors committing prescription medication crimes:

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Dr. Lisa Tseng Guilty of 2nd-degree murder in Patient Overdose Deaths

UPDATE: Dr. Tseng faces sentencing for murder

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Birmingham-area doctors charged in federal prescription drug crackdown

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Doctor arrested for selling prescription pills

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Amherst Doctor Arrested for Distributing Controlled Substances and Obtaining Prescriptions by Fraud 

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L.A. doctor, 4 others arrested in prescription drug ‘pill mill’ case

Doctor gets 5 years in prescription drug case

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Long Island Doctor Arrested For Selling Prescriptions For Narcotic Drugs

Feds bust Alabama doctors, as state leads nation in pain pill use

Doctor caught on camera collecting cash, selling painkiller prescriptions

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Elderly doctor, wife charged in $77M ‘pill mill’

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Kansas doctor, wife face new sentencing in overdose deaths

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Former Pratt mayor admits to selling pills

Drug firms want W.Va. Supreme Court to halt ‘pill mill’ suit

BRIEF: State attorney general charges two clinic doctors with insurance fraud

Georgia Doctor sentenced for roving pain management clinic

“Candy Man” Doctor gets 27 years in Federal Prison for prescribing needed narcotics

W.Va. doctor pleads guilty to dispensing narcotic painkillers illegally

Colorado Surgical Technician indicted on charges for tampering with narcotics  

Dermatologist Pleads Guilty to Fraudulent Prescriptions

 

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Nurse pleads guilty to charges of stealing pain meds

 

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Can’t make this stuff up……controversial medical procedure known simply as the “Jesus Shot” – which is supposed to cure pain for life.  

 

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Felon, Doctor Injects Oklahomans With ‘Jesus Shot’…..a controversial medical procedure known simply as the “Jesus Shot” – which is supposed to cure pain for life for $300.

 

 

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Click on the links below to read the incredible details:

 

Oklahoma doctor claims $300 ‘Jesus Shot’ can cure chronic pain

 

…..and…..

click the link below to read about a top Texas agriculture official reportedly facing questions over whether he used a taxpayer-billed trip to Oklahoma to receive a controversial medical procedure known simply as the “Jesus Shot” – which is supposed to cure pain for life.

 

 

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What can we do?

 

The famous Ben Franklin quote holds true….

 

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“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” 

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The American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) offers an extensive resource for both doctors and patients.  The ACPM details the roles & responsibilities of both doctor & patient along with strategies and best practices to ensure a safe prescription medication therapy experience.

Click on the following link to visit the American College of Preventive Medicine:

ACPM

 

Remember:

mypainweb.com’s recurring message to “Take Charge of your Healthcare” holds true.

Simply discuss any questions or concerns which you may have about the prescription pain medication(s) being prescribed to you or a loved one with the doctor.

If you’re not comfortable or satisfied with the outcome of that conversation, then seek a second opinion from another doctor.

Use the mypainweb Doctor Finder to help find a second opinion doctor.

mypainweb.com will continue to bring you updates on this important Chronic Pain topic to help you take control of your painweb to improve your quality of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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