The state holds physicians to a much higher standard of conduct than the average citizen. If someone hopes to obtain and retain a license to practice human medicine, they will generally need to avoid criminal activity and major mistakes while practicing medicine. Errors, deviations from best practices and scenarios involving negligence might all potentially put a medical doctor’s license at risk.
Criminal convictions can also lead to the loss of licensing privileges. Opioid prescription drug abuse and the regulatory crackdown that has resulted have certainly changed what physicians can expect when practicing medicine. Someone’s prescribing habits when it comes to opioid medication could sometimes lead to licensing consequences and possibly even criminal charges for a practicing Virginia physician.
Overprescribing has never drawn more scrutiny
Synthetic opioids like fentanyl have become a major menace on the unregulated drug market across the United States. Thousands of people fatally overdose each year, and countless more continue to purchase and use dangerous narcotic pain relievers without the oversight of a physician. Many of those people developed their addiction while under the care of a licensed physician, possibly after an accident or illness.
Lawmakers and law enforcement professionals have started to pay more attention to the role that individual medical practitioners play in the opioid crisis. There are now programs in place to track how many prescriptions a doctor writes and how much medication individual patients receive.
When there are signs that someone has started to violate those rules, drug charges are quite likely. In April 2023, the Justice Department announced charges against a Virginia physician for an alleged scheme involving prescribing opioids to an employee under a pseudonym.
The Justice Department claims that one employee received more than 50,000 oxycodone pills over the course of multiple years. There were also individual patients who received prescriptions for as many as 360 30-mg oxycodone tablets monthly. The charges against the people involved could result in 20 years in federal custody.
Narcotic painkiller prescribing habits can draw the attention of investigators and regulatory authorities. Even if a physician works with patients who have intractable pain issues, they need to be aware of how their prescribing practices could put their license at risk. Seeking legal guidance to learn more about cases that trigger federal charges may help those practicing medicine in Virginia better protect their careers.