What is Doctor Shopping?
Many of us enjoy shopping, but there’s a specific type of shopping that is against the law: doctor shopping. Doctor shopping refers to the act of seeing multiple doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions for drugs. It can refer to changing doctors while dealing with one illness episode. It can also mean consulting with multiple doctors during the same illness or simultaneous use of several healthcare providers, all for the same reason. Rates of doctor shopping are as high as 56%.
Doctor shopping is a form of prescription drug fraud. Since patients use dishonesty to obtain controlled substances—particularly narcotics, opioids and other addictive drugs—and sell, transfer or abuse them, this crime is punished severely. People from all walks of life engage in doctor shopping. Celebrities do it. One high-profile case involved popular radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who saw four doctors in just six months and was able to obtain 2,000 painkiller pills.
Even police officers— who are well aware of prescription drug laws—are engaging in doctor shopping. One veteran officer in particular was arrested and jailed for doctor shopping. He had been a police officer for 21 years.
Doctor shopping is against federal law, even if there are no state laws expressly prohibiting it. Read on to learn more about doctor shopping and what to do if you are accused of this crime.
Reasons for Doctor Shopping
Doctor shopping may occur due to patient- or physician-related factors. In many cases, patient seek multiple doctors to deal with a chronic condition that is seeing little to no improvement. Doctor shopping is associated with medical conditions such as gastroenteritis and infections in the urinary tract and respiratory system. It is also linked to increased rates of mental illness, as medically unexplained symptoms and emotional dysfunction contributes to doctor shopping.
Physician factors also play a role. Long waiting times, inconvenient office hours, poor communication and strict healthcare providers all contribute to a higher likelihood of doctor shopping.
Patients are more likely to doctor shop for addictive drugs than non-addictive drugs. The drugs most commonly associated with doctor shopping are opioids, benzodiazepines, stimulants and weight loss medications.
Does doctor shopping lead to overdose deaths? In one study, 21.4% of victims showed evidence of doctor shopping before they died. Another interesting fact is that prescription monitoring programs decrease the prevalence of doctor shopping. While Maryland does not have a program in place, 37 states do.
Contact a Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Doctor shopping is a crime, even though you may be aware of it. Such actions can lead to serious penalties. While not every case is considered a felony, many are. As such, this type of fraud can lead to fines and prison time.
Avoid serious charges with a solid defense from a Columbia criminal lawyer at the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. He can help you understand the options that are available, such as drug treatment programs. Schedule a free consultation by filling out the online form or calling (410) 774-5987.