PAINKILLER LAW: Fill cup to line. Wash hands. Thanks, Dr.

Every now and again, something comes along that makes it shamefully easy to explain to people why I pioneered PAINKILLER LAW and why I advise and represent healthcare providers as part of my criminal defense practice. In a nutshell, I do this because in today’s hyperaggressive enforcement environment, even the most ethical, upstanding healthcare practitioner or group manager or risk manager or hospital CEO is more likely to come under government scrutiny for alleged improper prescribing. It’s not necessarily that the provider or manager has done anything wrong; it’s because government agencies are desperate to “do something” in response to a national crisis of prescription drug abuse. PAINKILLER LAW is a proactive, pre-investigation consultative legal service for providers, as well as comprehensive defense if an investigation begins.

As an illustration of the times we’re living in, consider the following: A private, nonprofit consumer group in California (Consumer Watch) wants California’s prescription drug monitoring database, known as CURES, to be “data mined” to find allegedly corrupt prescription providers. If CURES weren’t already flawed enough, now it’s supposed to be probable cause to investigate a crime. And – here’s the kicker – if Consumer Watch has its way with my state’s governor, California’s healthcare providers will soon be subject to random drug testing.

Let’s talk about the CURES idea first. Currently, participation in CURES is voluntary, many pharmacies don’t participate, data isn’t uploaded by prescribers and dispensers in real-time, and the database is overseen by exactly one state government employee in Sacramento. Would you perform major surgery on the basis of X-rays a month old? CURES is the month-old X-ray; until the information is vastly more reliable than it is now, the database isn’t worth a heck of a lot. It’s better than nothing, but it certainly shouldn’t be used as a basis for criminal investigation of a healthcare provider.

Second, whence random drug testing? Consumer Watch is up in arms over the Medical Board‘s recent decision to restore the license of a doctor who previously admitted to using methamphetamine. So now, the state’s 120,000 physicians, and tens of thousands of DO’s, PA’s and NP’s, should be arbitrarily told to “fill it to the line” before seeing their patients that day? Talk about painting with a broad brush; overkill; excess; however you want to say it, it’s ludicrous to consider instituting this kind of requirement across the profession.

Today, being in compliance with the criminal laws of prescription writing can help you (a) better ensure patient safety, (b) give you peace of mind that you’re obeying the law, (c) lower the chance of a bogus complaint actually becoming a grave threat, and (d) increase the chances of prevailing if a Medical Board investigation, or worse, a criminal prosecution, begins. If you’re in compliance, you lower risk; if you can prove your good faith following of the law, you maximize your opportunity to present favorable evidence to investigators, or jurors, and have it accorded the maximum possible weight and relevance.

Call or write my offices for a free consultation. Contact information is below. And thank you, Consumer Watch, for making PAINKILLER LAW so understandable. MEISTER LAW OFFICES 213.293.3737

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