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artist rendition of Will Vaughn

Why doctor shopping could lead to prescription drug charges

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2024 | Drug Charges

Prescription drugs are technically controlled substances. Individuals cannot legally access prescription medications without a written recommendation from a licensed physician. They can typically only obtain those medications from a pharmacy or similar licensed medical facility. They can only take the medication as recommended by the doctor overseeing their treatment and cannot transfer any residual medication to others.

These restrictions exist for numerous reasons. First and foremost, physicians serve as a crucial gatekeeping measure to ensure that people take the right medications given their conditions. Physicians can evaluate people for allergies and other contraindications that might make a medication particularly risky. Physicians also oversee the course of someone’s treatments, potentially monitoring them for side effects, adverse reactions and chemical dependence.

Unfortunately, some people eager to obtain specific medication may violate the law by seeing multiple doctors in pursuit of the same substance. They could face criminal charges because their behavior constitutes doctor shopping.

What doctor shopping involves

Doctor shopping has been an issue for decades, and Texas law enforcement authorities have only recently begun fighting the practice. Doctor shopping involves a patient intentionally seeing more than one physician for the same complaints.

They may go to completely unaffiliated doctors in the hopes of obtaining multiple prescriptions for the same medication. A doctor-shopping patient could secure a variety of prescription pain medications or far more muscle relaxants than they can safely use. They could either abuse the mediation themselves or distribute it to others.

Texas has implemented measures to deter doctor shoppers from engaging in the practice, including a prescription tracking program. Texas not only allows doctors and pharmacists to compare a patient’s recent medical recommendations within the state, but they may also be able to access records from many other states as well.

If regulatory authorities or medical professionals suspect someone of doctor shopping, the case may end up under the scrutiny of a Texas prosecutor. The state could bring charges against someone who allegedly misrepresented their circumstances to physicians to abuse prescribing practices and obtain access to controlled substances.

A conviction for a controlled substance offense can have major implications for someone’s life. Mounting an appropriate defense, such as explaining why someone attended multiple medical appointments, may help people prevent doctor-shopping allegations from culminating in a criminal conviction.