Concerns about drug diversion and drug seeking patients – even those with legitimate pain management needs – are one of the overriding issues for medical personnel in New York and the country.
In a typical ER shift, you likely see dozens of patients and are under pressure from administrators to either discharge or admit within tight timeframes.
As a matter of policy, you want to make sure you’re being as careful as possible to screen out legitimate pain patients from those seeking drugs for their own addictions or to sell on the street.
The competing interests at play are extremely difficult to manage day in and day out. If you decline to provide painkillers to patients with a legitimate need, are you causing more harm than if you err on the side of prescribing even when you think the patient may be drug seeking?
You risk significant liability, including criminal prosecution, if DEA or OPMC take a look at your records and find that you’ve been overprescribing painkillers.
While both organizations have wide latitude in applying laws and regulations to a given case, your best option to protect yourself in the long run is to make it a habit to consult New York’s prescription drug monitoring database as part of your routine before prescribing opiates.
That system isn’t perfect, displaying only a limited timeframe, but can act as important evidence of due diligence if your pattern of prescriptions is called into question.
If so, it’s vital that you consult with an experienced healthcare attorney as early in the investigation process as possible.
Keep in mind that hospital counsel may have different priorities than you, and your malpractice coverage likely includes the legal costs associated with investigations and litigation.
Drug diversion is a serious charge that can cripple your career, and you shouldn’t take chances.
Create clear, repeatable policies to screen for drug-seeking behavior, apply them consistently, and if authorities have questions, call our NY health care defense attorneys at (212) 577-6677 right away.