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People who go doctor shopping could face criminal charges

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2024 | Criminal Defense

There needs to be trust and respect within a doctor-patient relationship. Without those elements, it may be difficult for the parties to work together successfully. Patients need to be comfortable enough to tell their doctors private information, and they have to trust them to reach the right conclusions about their medical needs.

Sometimes, patients realize that there is a clash of personalities or values while seeing a doctor. Whether they realize that their family doctor is judgmental about their lifestyle or they simply have a different philosophy about medicine and health than the doctor with the closest office to their home, patients do sometimes need to seek out a different physician than the one currently providing their care.

Simply looking for another doctor isn’t illegal, but certain behavior while seeing different physicians could lead to criminal charges. The state might accuse someone of doctor shopping in some cases.

What is doctor shopping?

The term doctor shopping refers to someone seeing multiple different physicians for the same complaint, often because they want the a certain medication. People might cross county lines or see doctors affiliated with different hospitals to obtain far more of a medication than any one physician might prescribe them. They might also hop from one doctor to the next while withholding information about that practice from the doctors that they see.

It is illegal to intentionally omit information about one’s medical care and recent appointments when talking with a physician. It is also illegal to misrepresent symptoms in an effort to secure specific medication. Digital record-keeping has made it easier than ever before for the state to become aware of drug-seeking behavior like doctor shopping.

State prosecutors may very well charge someone with a felony for seeking medication from multiple different doctors. The penalties for a guilty plea or conviction could be as high as $5,000 in fines and five years in prison. Patients with a history of doctor shopping may have a difficult time developing a health working relationship with a physician in the future, as their record could make it hard to trust self-reported symptoms.

Anyone accused of inappropriately accessing prescription medication could end up charged with the drug offense. Learning more about what prescription drug crimes Florida regularly prosecutes can help people avoid mistakes that could change the course of their lives.