Healthcare fraud is often a fairly technical area of law: large companies misusing funds, fraudulently billing Medicare or Medi-Cal, or improperly treating patients not in need of expensive procedures. Cases often revolve around class disputes, the finer points of qui tam law and the false claims act, or whistleblower protections and disclosure of private information. Cases of this nature constitute the bulk of actions filed under healthcare fraud. There is another type, however, that is becoming an increasingly worrisome issue for medical practitioners, attorneys, and law enforcement: so-called pill mills, where a physician gone wrong misuses their authority to prescribe massive quantities of pain medication and other addictive medication, either for sale on the black market or to attract desperate addicts to prescription medication.
It goes without saying that this violates the primary ethical code of the physician, the Hippocratic oath. It enriches the doctor at the expense of the credibility of the entire profession, and often creates a new generation of pill addicts from patients who may have simply wanted to soothe the pain from a bad back. Some doctors accused of operating pill mills claim that they are offering a solution to patients who suffer from “chronic pain,” long-term, undiagnosable illnesses that can be debilitating to sufferers. Treating the symptoms with expensive, dangerous, and powerful medication is likely not the answer to the problem.
Often it is the public that pays the cost for these drugs. Many patients are on Medicaid, Medicare, or other subsidized healthcare, and physicians who are pulling from the deep pockets of the state see no reason to reduce costs. Senior citizens, the unemployed, and others dealing with financial hardships may see a doctor amenable to providing a means to ease their pain as a godsend, when in reality they are nothing more than drug peddlers.
Thankfully, cases like this are often found out and the perpetrators face severe civil and criminal liability. If you are aware of an individual or company that is defrauding the government, or have a loved one who you are concerned may be being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous healthcare provider, contact the Evans Law Firm. Our practice area include Qui tam and whistleblower cases, physical and financial elder abuse, and insurance, banking, and annuity fraud. We can be reached by phone at (415) 441-8669, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.