Each year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid collect data on the number of prescriptions written by providers in an effort to track prescribing habits. As part of their investigation into the opioid crisis, Raycom Media recently analyzed the Medicare Part D data, which provides a summary of providers’ prescriptions between 2013 and 2015. Specifically, Raycom examined all drugs that were labeled as opioids to gain a better understanding of the number of prescription opioids that healthcare providers prescribe.
As the opioid crisis continues to shatter the lives of so many Americans, too many healthcare providers continue to prescribe these potent and highly addictive drugs to patients whose pain could possibly be managed with over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen. Raycom found that close to 238 million opioid prescriptions were written by over 618,500 healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, and physician’s assistants, over the three-year span. Raycom’s investigation focused specifically on the top 1,000 prescribers.
Investigators were able to confirm the current status of the providers’ licenses and determine whether disciplinary action had been taken against any healthcare providers by state regulators. For example, they found that two doctors had been suspended, but the state medical board would not release information about the complaint or why they had been suspended. Another prescriber could not be found in the state licensing data.
Identifying the Top Prescribers
The project also incorporated data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2013 to 2016 that looked at prescribing rates, as well as the number of deaths from opioid overdoses from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s analysis of the CDC and the National Center for Health Statistics records. Finally, Raycom Media was able to access the federal courts’ online records service to identify providers who have faced criminal charges for a range of offenses, including health care fraud and overprescribing prescription opioids.
Each of the top 1,000 prescribers was sent a letter by Raycom, alerting them that their Medicare D opioid claims were on record. They were given the opportunity to respond and defend their decision to prescribe an opioid medication. In addition, Raycom found that Insys Therapeutics, an Arizona-based pharmaceutical company that makes a spray form of the opioid fentanyl, was paying doctors to prescribe the drug, which is called Subsys. Raycom notified via FedEx the top 20 physicians who received payments from Insys, letting them know that their names and the amount of money they received from Insys would appear in a news story. They were given the opportunity to comment prior to publication.
This investigation takes an important step towards exposing physicians who may be overprescribing opioids rather than safer alternatives, or are doing so for financial gains.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Medical Negligence
If your healthcare provider has prescribed an opioid pain medication for you or a loved one and it has had a negative impact on your health and safety, do not hesitate to contact the highly skilled and compassionate Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A. We will ensure that the responsible party is held liable for any negligent behavior. Our dedicated team will seek the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent medical malpractice victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, 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.