A Primer on Doctor-Shopping

These days, it is almost impossible to get higher-end medicine over the counter without a certified prescription from a duly-licensed physician. In some cases, even the standard cough syrup or cold medicine can’t be purchased unless an officially-recognized doctor provides the prescription to back it up. It is a general safety measure to ensure that people don’t go overboard with their medicine-buying, to make sure that people only purchase the medicine suitable for their current condition, and to prevent substance abusers from gaining easy access to drugs.

Nonetheless, the prescription system does have its own loopholes, and substance abusers have found ways to do so regularly. One of the more prevalent ways for substance abusers in Las Vegas to get their hands on prescription drugs is via doctor-shopping. This is one of the more common drug cases that drug attorneys in Las Vegas deal with often because of their prevalence. But just what is doctor-shopping and why do substance-abusers use this method a lot to obtain their drugs illicitly?

What is Doctor-Shopping?

Doctor-shopping is defined as using multiple legal sources to illicitly obtain controlled substances, with each source not knowing that the buyer has obtained more substances from other pharmacies or providers. For example, a substance abuser may illicitly obtain prescriptions from different physicians so that he or she can obtain the controlled substance from a number of pharmacies without raising too much suspicion. Doctor-shopping is often done to obtain such high-end controlled substances as morphine, Ritalin and valium, although in some cases even the usual cough syrup may full under prescription drugs that are a target for doctor-shopping individuals.

There are several reasons why people commit doctor-shopping to obtain controlled substances. The most common reason, of course, would be for personal consumption. In other cases, doctor-shopping is committed to obtain drugs for illegal distribution or sharing with fellow substance-abusers. In some cases, the illegal prescriptions even come from employees themselves, either for personal use or for an extra source of income. In other cases, it all comes down to ignorance or impatience on the part of the patient, who choose to purchase a drug even if it has not been prescribed to them, due to factors like continuing symptoms or a lack of knowledge in proper treatment.

How bad is it?

Among various fraud charges related to drugs, doctor-shopping is considered one of the most serious because of how it correlates to the high number of prescription drug-related deaths and near-deaths in the United States alone. The numbers are not equivocal for most states, however, which indicate that doctor-shopping does not affect these prescription-induced deaths at the same rate across the country. Nonetheless, this kind of fraud has been a point of concern for medical and legal experts for a while now.

To put the seriousness of the problem into perspective, one only needs to look at the numbers. In 2011 alone, More than 22,800 drug overdose-related deaths were recorded across the country. That is a fairly high number of deaths caused by controlled drugs, and considering how most of those controlled drugs were obtained by fraudulent methods, it is understandable why the states have enacted more stringent measures to mitigate this practice.

Doctor-Shopping and the Law

In Nevada, doctor-shopping charges are met with serious penalties. This level of fraud is recognized as a Category C felony and merits over $10,000 in fines, along with over five years maximum jail time. Those with previous records or are confirmed substance abusers may choose to go through this regular sentence, or may have it deferred in favor of a court order for a drug rehabilitation program.

Legislation against doctor-shopping is already pretty strict in Nevada, but other states have enacted even more serious laws to deal with this problem. For example, Rhode Island has two different laws for distinct doctor-shopping cases, while Montana even has a set timeframe by which a purchase can be considered doctor-shopping. In other states, full disclosure clauses are in effect to ensure that no suspicious activity can get past and no fake prescriptions can be made. There are even some cases where people who mistakenly commit doctor-shopping by purchasing from concurrent vendors without a proper prescription can be charged or fined.

The legal implications of doctor-shopping are vast and far-reaching, to the point that even a medicine purchase made without the proper prescription, even if done by mistake or due to a lack of prior knowledge, can already be construed as a fraudulent act. Stick to getting a prescription from a proper physician, and remember that there are always able lawyers who are willing to help if one is charged with doctor-shopping in Las Vegas.