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What is doctor shopping?

On Behalf of | Aug 13, 2022 | Criminal Law |

Most controlled substances are medications that have accepted uses to treat medical conditions but also have a high potential for abuse. Therefore, there are limits on prescribing these medications to patients.

Some people try to get around these limits by seeing multiple physicians to obtain medications. The doctors, not being aware that the patient already has a prescription from another doctor, writes a new one. In this way, the patient obtains more of a drug than the law otherwise allows him or her to possess. The term for this practice is doctor shopping, and it is illegal.

Why does doctor shopping take place?

According to American Addiction Centers, there are two main reasons why people engage in doctor shopping. Some people intend to sell the drugs to other people, while others have become addicted. They can no longer obtain the controlled substance from their primary care physicians, so they feel they have to doctor shop to prevent withdrawal.

What are the laws against doctor shopping?

There are both federal and state laws against doctor shopping. The federal laws are the Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and the Narcotic Drug Act of 1932. Arizona incorporates language from both laws in its drug statutes.

Are there measures in place to prevent doctor shopping?

According to Cronkite News, the state of Arizona maintains a database of prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances. Before writing a prescription for a controlled substance, state law requires that the doctor check the database to see if the patient has any other prescriptions for the same medication.

Unfortunately, there is little oversight to hold doctors accountable for checking the database before prescribing, and reportedly, only 40% of them comply with the requirement. Nevertheless, the patient who engages in doctor shopping is criminally liable if discovered, and penalties can be steep.

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