When a Workers’ Compensation law firm is a majority owner of an online pharmacy that provides prescription medication to their clients who have been injured on the job, you might think there is something ethically questionable about that scenario. According to legal and medical ethicists, you would be right. When lawyers, doctors, and pharmacists are in business together, it can lead to a conflict of interest and may create financial incentives to prescribe the most expensive medications.
According to Dr. Steven Joffe, Chief of the Division of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School, this type of setup is ripe for corruption. When a worker is injured, the medical bills are typically covered by the employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance. Some doctors attempted to exploit the system by dispensing narcotic pain medications directly to their patients. The cost of these medications were often three to 10 times more than what they cost in a retail drugstore. After a 2014 crackdown on physician drug dispensing, the doctor and lawyer-owned pharmacies began to pop up.
Jane Lombard, who represents employers and insurance firms that pay injured workers’ medical bills, said that the cost of some of the commonly prescribed pain relieving creams is shocking. The typical workplace injury does not warrant a $4,000 cream. There is also the tendency to prescribe more medications than necessary because of the increased revenue it generates. It is these doctor and lawyer-owned pharmacies that are driving costs through the roof. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find out who owns these pharmacies because the owners are lawyers who know how to protect their interests by putting up legal roadblocks.
Lawyers who are involved in these partnerships with doctors and pharmacists say what they are doing is completely ethical and that they are protecting their clients who are often denied medication from insurance companies. They claim that this partnership benefits the injured workers because it enables them to get their medication while their claim is being disputed.
Others question the legality of attorney-owned pharmacies, saying that they violate the rules of professional conduct. According to Joseph Huttemann, former Chairman of the Workers’ Compensation section of the Pennsylvania Association of Justice, no one should profit from abusing the system and taking advantage of clients. Geoffrey Hazard, Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania and a nationally recognized legal ethicist, warned that these partnerships could lead to exploitation and kickbacks.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Protect the Rights of Injured Workers
If you have been injured at work, you are entitled to fair and honest Workers’ Compensation benefits, including coverage for all medical bills, lost wages, disability benefits, and death benefits in the event of a fatality. The Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton will seek the maximum benefits that you deserve based on your injury, ensuring that you are not exploited or taken advantage of in any way. Our dedicated team will guide you through every step of the claims process, addressing all of your questions and concerns along the way. Protecting your legal rights is our top priority. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, do not hesitate to call us at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.