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Can doctor shopping be a federal offense?

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2022 | Federal Crimes |

Modern medicine gives doctors numerous ways to mitigate acute and chronic pain. Many prescription medications are addictive, though. Moreover, prescription pain medication can come with serious side effects. This means doctors must be careful when deciding what to prescribe to their patients.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it is common for patients to develop a tolerance to pain medication. With drug tolerance, you must increase your dosage to get the same level of relief. If your go-to doctor refuses to supply you with more medication, it might be tempting to try to obtain prescriptions from other doctors.

Doctor shopping

Doctor shopping happens when individuals use fraud or deceit to secure prescription medication. If you do not tell subsequent physicians about the prescriptions you already have, you might be shopping for doctors. You also might be putting your health in danger.

Federal vs. state law

All states have prohibitions against doctor shopping. Therefore, if you shop for more prescription medication than you should receive, you might be vulnerable to state prosecution. Still, because federal law prohibits obtaining controlled substances through misrepresentation or fraud, you also could face federal prosecution for doctor shopping.

Potential criminal consequences

Under federal law, doctor shopping typically is a felony-level offense. As such, a conviction for doctor shopping can come with a lengthy prison sentence, a hefty fine or both. You might have some valid defenses, though.

Ultimately, rather than blindly accepting a federal prosecutor’s plea deal to make criminal charges go away, it is advisable to explore all feasible defenses to any doctor-shopping charges you are facing.