Is Doctor Shopping Illegal?

Doctor shopping is not the process of choosing a physician based on your insurance coverage. Instead, it refers to going to multiple doctors to obtain controlled substances such as narcotics. The doctors are unaware that the patient is seeing multiple physicians, so they continue to write prescriptions. Even though law enforcement has cracked down on doctor shopping, the problem still exists.

Doctor Shopping is More Common than You Think

Doctor shoppers can be successful in their efforts because they provide false information and visit multiple doctors. Some of the things they may lie about include:

  • Symptoms
  • Denying previous prescriptions
  • Leaving out important information
  • Injuring themselves on purpose
  • Claiming they lost their prescription

Typically, doctor shoppers commit this crime because they are addicted to the medication and want more, or they want to sell the drugs. The most common prescriptions that people seek out are narcotics but benzodiazepines, sleeping pills, and stimulants are common as well.

Doctor Shopping is a Crime

Not everyone realizes that they are breaking the law when the doctor shop. They may admit that they are stretching the truth but not committing a federal crime. But, doctor shopping is illegal and is a federal crime. Each state has slightly different laws, but they all state that it is illegal to obtain or try to obtain a narcotic drug by lying, fraud or concealment of the facts.

If a person is caught doctor shopping, they can be charged with a felony. Punishments may include a hefty fine and prison time. In some cases, court systems will suggest that the person attend inpatient rehabilitation rather than spending time in prison. This is usually only recommended when substance abuse is suspected and the person is a first-time offender. If, however, the person is not a first-time offender and has been caught selling the drugs, their penalties may be more severe.

How to Spot a Doctor Shopper

It’s important to know the signs of a doctor shopper. Not only can this allow you to help a loved one with substance abuse, but also it can prevent them from being arrested and having to serve prison time. Here are the signs that may indicate doctor shopping:

  • Paying for doctor visits using cash
  • Seeing doctors that are far from home
  • Claiming that they lost their prescription
  • Asking for certain brands or dosages of drugs
  • Requesting more pills for the month
  • Appearing to be rushed in the doctor’s office

Doctor shopping is a serious crime with serious penalties. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, call The River Source today. We offer convenient, affordable inpatient and outpatient programs.

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