Doctor shopping may lead to misdemeanor or felony charges

Modern medicine features dozens of options for controlling pain. Some prescription medications, like opioids oxycodone and fentanyl, are highly addictive. These drugs may also have significant value on the recreational drug market.

For these reasons and others, many doctors exercise great caution when prescribing pain medication. If a doctor refuses to write a prescription, shopping for one who will may violate Texas law.

What are the rules/consequences?

Both state and federal policies prohibit individuals from obtaining or attempting to get a prescription for a controlled substance through any of the following means:

  • Fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or subterfuge
  • The concealment of a meaningful fact

It is important to note that a person does not have to be successful to violate state law. Even trying to obtain a prescription through one of the above means is likely off-limits.

Prosecutors have the discretion to charge doctor shopping as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If the conduct is a misdemeanor, it is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine. For felony doctor shopping, though, a person may serve as many as three years in prison.

Furthermore, when engaging in doctor shopping, patients may commit other criminal offenses, such as identity theft or Medicaid fraud.

Examples of doctor shopping

While there is certainly nothing wrong with seeking a second medical opinion or consulting a specialist, patients must carefully consider why they want to see many doctors.

Visiting multiple physicians to obtain multiple prescriptions for controlled substances may be illegal. Typically, individuals violate the law in one of the following ways:

  • Obtaining many prescriptions for the same drug for personal use.
  • Obtaining one or more prescriptions for a drug for a friend’s or relative’s use.
  • Obtaining prescriptions from one or more doctors to sell drugs.

Even though doctor shopping may expose an individual to significant legal consequences, it is possible to mount an effective defense to doctor shopping charges. The defense a person chooses, however, probably depends on the specific facts of the situation.

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