In 2014 in Indiana, a doctor committed medical malpractice when he took millions from Medicare for urine tests for prescription and illegal drugs, but failed to act when results were positive. Four patients died, and the doctor’s clinic continued prescribing for dozens of others who failed tests. One patient who failed 46 urine tests was never confronted, even though there was a history of overdose.
Because of the opioid crisis, the number of urine screens and related genetic tests quadrupled between 2011 and 2014. The cost was estimated to be approximately $8.5 billion a year. That exceeds the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget. The goal of the tests, which was paid for by Medicare and other insurers, was to detect and prevent drug abuse. However, some doctors, like the one mentioned previously, do nothing to follow up with patients with failed test results.
Private insurers and Medicaid do not have the resources they need to routinely confirm that the doctors who order a large volume of drug-related tests are doing so to improve patient care, rather than to profit from their patients’ misfortune.
Nearly a dozen recent criminal cases involve doctors who continued to prescribe opiates to patients with repeated abnormal test results. This constitutes both illegal prescribing and healthcare fraud. Continuing investigations likely mean that more and more doctors will face fraud charges. Many fear that doctors are overprescribing opioids without a true medical purpose.
Even doctors who operate properly under the law may disagree on how to respond to failed urine tests. Some believe that patients who abuse drugs should be dropped. Others believe not treating such patients is unethical, and that patients who fail drug tests should be counseled and referred to substance abuse treatment.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, contact an experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-457-4LAW (4529) or contact us online. Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore and throughout the state of Maryland. Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent car accident victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.