By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On December 15, 2017, a physician who sold painkiller prescriptions to patients at a bar and restaurant, had his two-year probation for unprofessional conduct upheld by a Maryland appeals court. The court upheld the decision after it found that the evidence supported the state board’s disciplinary decision.
Unprofessional Conduct Alleged.
The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the ruling by the Maryland State Board of Physicians (Board) to reprimand Dr. Walter Kozachuk and place him on probation for a minimum of two years for unprofessional conduct in the practice of medicine. The Board claimed he would routinely meet with patients at a restaurant and bar and give them prescriptions for painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs in exchange for $100 per prescription. Additionally, on at least one occasion, he allegedly gave a patient a prescription in a parking lot.
The appeals court determined that there was substantial evidence supporting the board’s determination that the doctor’s sale of prescriptions in a non-office setting constituted unprofessional conduct. To read the court’s opinion in full, click here.
How You Can Avoid Legal Issues.
As a physician, you should be proactive in avoiding drug seeking patients and illicit clinic owners or coworkers. With the power of prescribing comes a great responsibility. Don’t find yourself behind bars when it can all be prevented. Here are some tips to learn from the recent pain management clinic raids.
1. Avoid working for practices or clinics that have reputations as pill mills.
2. Most physicians subject of investigations, such as the one written about here, are typically the sole physician in the clinic. Join a team setting in a group practice with other full-time physicians.
3. Document everything. Make sure all medical records meet the requirements of state and federal laws. Verify all patients’ identities and be sensitive to possible false identifications.
4. Make sure you know about everything going on in your office. Maintain a loyal and trustworthy staff who will report irregular behavior to you as physician. Have a zero tolerance for staff violations.
5. Do NOT ever allow a lay person or non-physician to control your office. Do not give anyone like this sole access to medical records, billings, bank accounts or scheduling. Make sure that you are the one in control of these, that you have the passwords and access numbers, and that your constantly review these. You will be held accountable for this so you should remain in control.
To read more physician tips on protecting yourself and your license, click here.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Health Professionals and Providers.
The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, pain management doctors, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers. We represent physicians in complaints against their medical licenses. We also handle appeals of board of medicine cases.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Kang, Peter. “Md. Court Affirms Discipline For Doc Who Sold Scrips At Bar.” Law360. (December 15, 2017). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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