In an effort to combat the opioid epidemic, state and federal laws have tightened prescription guidelines, increased prescription reporting requirements, and strengthened penalties for overprescribing. In the past few years alone, Florida has instituted stringent prescription reporting requirements and imposed a three-day limit on prescriptions of controlled substances for treating acute pain.
Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors have also become significantly more aggressive in investigating and arresting doctors suspected of overprescribing medication. A red flag from a federal or state monitoring system, a discrepancy during a routine audit, an anonymous tip, or other factors can trigger heightened scrutiny and surveillance by the DEA and/or state and local law enforcement agencies.
In some cases, physicians who prescribe pain medications can be unfairly targeted and charged with committing a crime. These charges can be very serious, with long-lasting negative consequences, including loss of your medical license, loss of income, large fines, time in prison, and a permanent criminal record.
Before you face these serious consequences, get the help you need from an experienced health care and criminal defense attorney. If you are being audited, investigated, or charged with overprescribing, contact Attorney Jonathan Rose as soon as possible. The sooner he can intervene on your behalf, the better prepared you will be to fight any charges against you and hopefully get them dismissed or reduced.
Complex Legal and Administrative Consequences of Overprescribing Medication
If you are being audited, investigated, or charged with overprescribing, you need to act quickly to protect yourself. Investigations of deviations from the standard of care can initiate a complex process and penalties in multiple areas, including:
- DEA suspension
Your DEA registration can very quickly be suspended if you are accused of unlawful prescribing. The suspension can be appealed through an administrative process, but specific steps must be followed and the allegations must be fought.
- Suspended CMS privileges
Your CMS privileges could also be suspended or revoked, pending administrative proceedings and/or criminal charges. This results in the loss of revenue from Medicare and Medicaid billing that CMS has not yet paid and possibly even prior billings.
- Medical License suspension
The Florida Department of Health initiate action against your license. Depending on the outcome of the administrative process, your license could be suspended or revoked.
- Criminal charges at the state or federal level
In addition to aggressively investigating and prosecuting doctors for overprescribing medication, federal and Florida state law enforcement officers and prosecutors are also charging doctors with drug trafficking, racketeering, health care fraud, and receiving or paying kickbacks.
Drug Trafficking – If you knowingly prescribed controlled substances outside the course of your usual medical practice and without having a legitimate medical purpose, you can be charged with drug trafficking. Sentencing guidelines for these charges vary under state and federal law depending on the circumstances surrounding the particular offense(s). However, a conviction could carry a penalty of jail time, fines, and the loss of your medical license.
Health Care Fraud – It you are accused of overprescribing to Medicare and Medicaid patients, you may be charged with federal health care fraud. Under federal law, it is a crime for a doctor to obtain money or property under false pretenses from a health care provider.
Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) – If more than one person is involved in what appears to be an overprescribing scheme, you could be charged under the RICO Act, which prohibits racketeering activities as part of a criminal enterprise.
Anti-Kickback Act – If there is any evidence of payments having been made or received for patient referrals, you could also be charged under the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). Under the AKS, it is a crime to pay, give, or receive anything of value in an effort to obtain referrals or business that involves a federal health care program.
Defending Florida Doctors Against Charges of Overprescribing Medication
Investigations and standards for offenses related to overprescribing medication can be very complex, and doctors can be wrongly charged with serious crimes. While it is possible to be exonerated, the legal and administrative processes involved can themselves be very harmful to a doctor’s career and future.
If you are being investigated or charged with overprescribing and/or related offenses, you need the help of a criminal defense attorney who knows health care law and is experienced in state and federal criminal defense cases.
During an investigation, federal and Florida state officers can use their administrative authority to examine your prescribing behaviors. By the time they get a search warrant, they have typically collected much of the evidence they need to arrest you. Before you this happens, it’s important to hire a defense attorney who is experienced at helping doctors accused of overprescribing medication. By intervening early on your behalf, Attorney Jonathan Rose can help make sure your rights are protected and proactively fight all potential charges.
If you’re convicted for overprescribing medication and/or a related offense such as drug trafficking, you could face up to twenty years in prison, hefty fines, civil financial penalties, and loss of your medical license. Therefore, no matter what stage of the administrative and legal processes you’re in, it’s important to have an attorney who is knowledgeable about both medical licensing defense and criminal defense at both the state and federal levels.
Get Help Now from an Experienced Federal Health Care Defense Attorney
If you’re a Florida doctor who is being investigated or charged with overprescribing medication or another drug-related offense, you need an experienced medical license defense attorney who is also skilled at defending doctors in both state and federal court. Attorney Jonathan Rose has the knowledge, skills, and experience you need.
Jonathan Rose has significant experience in Florida medical license defense and defending physicians and other medical professionals in criminal cases. He also has extensive experience in state and federal court as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney. He will put his knowledge of state and federal prosecutor’s strategies and years of experience in health care law to work developing a strong, comprehensive defense strategy to protect your rights and fight for your future.
Call 407-894-4555 or complete the contact form on our website to get the legal help you need from Orlando’s experienced health care and criminal defense attorney.
Gau, J.M., Moreto, W.D., Potter, R.H., Brooke, E.J. (2017, Feb.). Non-medical use of prescription drugs: Policy change, law enforcement activity, and diversion tactics. National Institute of Justices. https://nij.ojp.gov/
National Conference of State Legislatures. (2018). Prescribing policies: States confront opioid overdose epidemic. http://www.ncsl.org