Seeing multiple doctors to obtain medication could be a crime

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2024 | Drug Crimes |

People often associate drug crimes with illicit or prohibited substances. People are often less aware of how common prosecution is for prescription drug offenses. Prescription drugs are also controlled substances because they put people at risk of overdose and addiction.

A physician has to determine that someone actually needs medication and oversee their use of that drug for their safety. Medical doctors are essentially the gatekeepers for prescription drugs, which can lead to a unique form of misconduct from those who have become dependent on certain medications. If someone makes appointments at multiple hospitals, clinics or doctor’s offices in pursuit of medication, they might eventually face criminal charges for their attempts to obtain prescriptions from multiple medical professionals.

Doctor shopping is a crime in Florida

Before the rise of digital medical records, it was relatively easy for patients to get away with drug-seeking behavior by seeing unrelated medical professionals for the same complaints. They might make appointments with multiple different physicians, possibly in different counties or towns, while reporting the same symptoms. They could then obtain far more medication than an individual physician might otherwise typically prescribe to one patient.

Florida has criminalized that behavior, and digital record sharing has made it easier than ever before to track this form of patient misconduct. The failure to inform a healthcare professional about someone’s existing prescriptions and other medical relationships could constitute a crime. Inappropriate attempts to access medication associated with addiction and abuse is a third-degree felony. The potential penalties a judge could impose include up to five years in jail and $5,000 in fines.

There are plenty of scenarios that might look like doctor shopping that have totally innocent explanations. Maybe a patient does not have a good rapport with their physician and wants to find someone with whom their values better align. Maybe a doctor ended a patient’s treatment while they still have symptoms. They may want to find a doctor with a more compassionate approach to treatment.

Those accused of drug crimes related to doctor shopping may need help responding appropriately in criminal court. Those who know the law can potentially prepare a defense strategy that can reduce their risk of a criminal conviction.