As a practicing lawyer, I have represented many physicians charged with prescribing. The local authorities treated some of them as criminal investigations like the sheriff’s office in the county. Others were investigations being conducted by Drug Enforcement Administration– DEA while other investigations were by state licensing agency, particularly Florida Department of Health.

Drug related deaths

What was similar in nearly all these cases is that the DEA, local law enforcement authorities or Department of Health made use of undercover agents who posed as patients and make appointments with physicians and wired devices and provided false information to the patient? In some instances, investigations started after the death of a patient resulting from overdoes and it was unclear if it was an accidental overdose or patient suicide. In all the cases, upset and angry family members put all the blame on the patients for the death of the patient. In most of the cases, many physicians didn’t know that the patient was getting drugs from another doctor and had no idea of what they would do.

If a death is related to drugs, the local law enforcement authority tends to do a very thorough investigation. Prescription medications for the patient are usually seized and the prescribing doctor usually becomes a target for homicide investigation. As such, doctors should know how they shield themselves from patients who are seeking drugs and below are tips that can help significantly on this matter. These tips do not apply to doctors who treat hospice or cancer patients.

Useful tips on avoiding a homicide investigation

For starters, all doctors should strictly follow a good pain management guideline and you can find one from reputable online sources. Physicians need also to read and understand the ethical, professional and legal challenges that controlled medication seekers pose to providers of health care services. If you know of clinics and practices with a reputation of ‘pill mill’, you should avoid them at all costs. In most cases, physicians subjected to overprescribing investigations tend to be the ones working in a clinic or sole practitioners. Proper pain management is best provided in a group and not sole practice and should be done in an institutional setting.

As a doctor, if you come across an opiate addicted patient, it is best that you refer him or her to a doctor who specializes in rehabilitation addiction medicine and shouldn’t be accepted until the patient complies with this. It is a must that a doctor maintains excellent documentation for reference where necessary. The records must meet all the state laws and regulations requirements. For doctors who are not pain medicine certified specialists, they should refer patients to appropriate doctors with the right specialization. Finally, before treating a patient, make sure that you get his or her identity first.