“Pill Mills”-What Are They?
A “pill mill” is a doctor’s office, clinic, or other healthcare facility that regularly prescribes or dispenses controlled substances when they are not needed. These prescriptions are provided without a medical necessity and outside the course of a normal professional practice. Pill mills dispense quantities of pharmaceutical drugs that are not being used for their intended purpose and are diverted to those who are not prescribed the drugs by the doctor.
Many Pill Mills Call Themselves Pain Management Clinics
Most legitimate pain management clinics aren’t engaged in criminal activity. They operate legally with trained personnel and physicians who treat patients who really are suffering from pain. The American Medical Association says that pain management clinics provide specialized medical treatment to millions of Americans who live with chronic pain. Their treatment may include acupuncture, biofeedback, physical therapy—and the prescription of narcotics, including Oxycontin, opioids, and Xanax.
Pill Mills frequently open and close quickly in order to evade law enforcement. That’s because they may be engaged in insurance, Medicaid, Tri-Care, or Medicare fraud by prescribing narcotics that aren’t medically necessary to patients.
Who Uses Pill Mills?
Traditionally, abusers of prescription drugs have obtained their drugs through “doctor shopping.” This is the term generally used when a person sees a number of doctors complaining of the same symptoms to get multiple prescriptions of the same type. These doctor shoppers will target legitimate physicians who write control substance prescriptions in good faith, but then are subject to fraudulent patient claims.
Another big issues is the pill mill doctors that have been identified as “high prescribers.” These doctors are overprescribing physicians who engage in practices outside the normal standard of care. They prescribe the normal “cocktail” of opioids and benzodiazepines for cash-only business without any physical exam or diagnostic testing, no discussion of treatment plan or alternate treatment, and no assessment of risk of abuse.
A doctor who works with/for a pill mill usually gets a kickback, and he or she profits personally from this. More importantly, they put their patients’ health at risk. Medical professionals who engage in these pill mill practices are often committing fraud.
How Can You Tell if You’re at a Pill Mill?
The first thing you’ll see is that the office has security guards. You’ll also immediately see a large crowd of people waiting to see the doctor. An assistant won’t take your medical history or ask about your health records. Once you see the doctor, you won’t be given a physical exam. If you tell them you’re suffering from pain, you’ll be treated with pills only—no physical therapy or other alternatives. With prescription in hand, you’ll be directed to “their” pharmacy where you’ll be able to choose your own medicine, no questions asked. The pharmacist will give you a set number of pills and will let you know when to come back for more. And they only take cash.
That’s how a pill mill works.
Pill mills can churn out tens of thousands of painkillers and opioids.
Physicians must take an oath to do no harm and care for their patients to the best of their ability. However, a doctor in a pill mill has failed to keep that oath. A breach of the oath can result in addiction, physical injury, and even death.
Contact a Michigan Medical Negligence Attorney
When a doctor works for a pill mill, it may mean other patients will be left untreated for other medical conditions. If a loved one has been “treated” by a pill mill, family members may see their health decline quickly, signs of addiction, or existing diagnoses that become worse. If you or a loved one has been injured by a pill mill, you should contact an experienced Michigan personal injury law firm like Buchanan Law.
Buchanan Firm has medical professionals who are available to immediately investigate your claim to determine if the deviation was caused by medical negligence, such as treatment from a pill mill.
Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after hours, at home or in the hospital to accommodate you.