What are the Pitfalls of Prescribing Controlled Substances in New York?

The Office of Professional Medical Conduct is looking for doctors who are prescribing controlled substances unnecessarily. There are many people becoming drug addicts or who are dying because of overdoses for no reason whatsoever. The Office of Professional Medical Conduct can track what you, as a physician, are prescribing. If they see a pattern they do not like, they can then come in and investigate you. They do this by looking over your office records. They are looking to see if you have put a rationale in your office record as to why you are prescribing narcotics to these patients. Do your records show where the patient had pain, how long the patient had pain, where the pain is located, does it get better as time goes by, and if you give the narcotic does it improve or doesn’t it improve?

They also want to see if you are keeping track of the amount of pills you are giving to the patient, whether the patient is coming back often enough, and whether you are trying to get to the bottom of the problem. In other words, is it your idea that you’re going to prescribe drugs for this patient for the next 40 years? That’s not a situation OPMC wants to see and you, as the prescribing doctor, will get into trouble if they think you are doing that. They want to see in your records that you have referred the patient to an orthopedist, to a neurosurgeon, to pain management, to physical therapy, to an acupuncturist, or to have an MRI or a CT. All of these are trying to get to the core of the problem of why the patient has pain. If you can eliminate the pain, for instance surgically, then there is no need for any more drugs. That’s what they are trying to get at.

If your office records are skimpy or devoid of attempts that you’ve been making to try to get the patient off the narcotics, then you could very reasonably be in trouble. They might say you cannot prescribe controlled substances anymore. If they do that, then you will be taken, no doubt, off the list of preferred providers of the health insurance companies, and therefore, your business will go to almost zero. This is a really big deal. Be careful what you’re writing, be careful about the amount of narcotic you’re giving people, try to get them off the narcotics, try to shift them over to a pain management doctor, and if you get a letter from OPMC inquiring into this subject matter, you better get some counsel because you are going to need it. You have to change the way you are doing things if you hope to avoid any sanctions from OPMC.

Walker Medical Law is proud to serve the greater New York area with quality legal services representing physicians and other medical providers facing legal and license issues. If you need our help, contact our New York office for a consultation.