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Healthcare Providers Face New Legal Risks in Prescribing Opioids

Posted on in Medical License Defense

Milwaukee drug charges defense lawyer prescription opioidsIn recent months, both the State of Wisconsin and the United States Government have put healthcare providers on notice that their prescribing practices are being scrutinized. The U.S. Attorney’s offices for the State of Wisconsin have warned high prescribers of opioids that prescribing these medications when not medically necessary could lead to criminal charges. The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) is currently investigating high prescribers of opioids, and these healthcare providers could face sanctions against their license.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Attorneys offices in Wisconsin sent warning letters to 180 healthcare professionals in the State who have been identified by the Government as being high prescribers of opioids. This letter stated that over-prescribing these powerful and highly addictive drugs contributes to the deadly opioid crisis that has swept the country. While this letter acknowledged that these prescriptions could be “medically appropriate,” it also warned that prescribing these drugs when not “medically appropriate” could lead to criminal charges and the loss of licensure

A healthcare provider that received these letters should know that he/she is now on the Government’s radar, and their prescribing practice could face further scrutiny. Any healthcare provider that has received this letter and receives further contact from the Government should contact an attorney immediately. 

Last Fall, DSPS sent letters to the top prescribing physicians, physician assistants, dentists, and advanced practice nurse prescribers (APNP), notifying these individuals that their prescribing practices were being investigated. Specifically, DSPS is focusing on how these healthcare providers are utilizing the enhanced Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (ePDMP). As of April 2017, prescribers are required to check the Wisconsin ePDMP prior to issuing a prescription order for a monitored prescription drug, which is defined as controlled substance prescription drugs in Schedules II-V. 

The Wisconsin Board of Nursing (BON) has taken data provided by the ePDMP one step further. In addition to sending investigatory letters to the top APNPs, the BON requested additional targeted outreach for APNPs with estimated Wisconsin ePDMP usages of less than 50% to educate these providers about the use of the ePDMP. Over 800 outreach letters were sent to these APNPs at the end of 2018. 

The Health Law Section at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP is a recognized leader in the representation and defense of health care providers facing government investigation. Health Law Section Chair Pat Knight has decades of experience successfully representing health professionals who provide treatment for patients suffering from chronic pain. If you learn that your health practice is being scrutinized by these or other regulatory agencies, consult immediately with counsel experienced in investigations of this nature. Your reputation, career, and personal liberty deserve to be protected and preserved. Please contact our Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers at 414-271-1440.

Sources:

https://www.justice.gov/usao-edwi/pr/us-attorneys-issue-warnings-opioid-prescribers

https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/crime/2019/02/05/opioid-crisis-feds-warn-180-wisconsin-providers-prescriptions/2777040002/

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