“Doctor Shopping” Charges in Florida

December 3, 2019

Withholding Information from a Practitioner

Under Florida law, it is illegal to engage in “doctor shopping,” also known as “withholding information from a practitioner.” Specifically, Florida Statute Section 893.13(7)(8) provides that it is illegal to “[w]ithhold information from a practitioner from whom the person seeks to obtain a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance that the person making the request has received a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance of like therapeutic use from another practitioner within the previous 30 days.” In other words, a doctor shopping scheme typically happens when a person sees a physician for the purpose of obtaining a certain type of medication but does not tell him or her or her that he or she has already had multiple other prescriptions that were obtained via another physician. 

Florida courts have interpreted the above withholding information statute to actually mean that patients must volunteer information to their physician, even if he or she does not ask the patient about his or her current prescriptions.  

In several of these doctor shopping cases, a pharmacist or doctor becomes suspicious that a person is doctor shopping and notifies law enforcement about a possible violation of the above-referenced law. A prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office then begins to conduct an investigation and sends the individual a letter asking them to authorize the release of all of their medical records. If the individual does not sign the release, then the prosecutor can issue a subpoena to a doctor, treatment facility, or pharmacist in order to obtain the records. The individual will receive notice of the State Attorney’s Office intention to obtain medical records via a subpoena. 

If you subject to an investigation by the State Attorney’s Office, it is critical that you immediately contact a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney at Musca Law who can advise you of your legal rights and options. Call Musca Law today at 1 (888) 484-5057. 

Types of Doctor Shopping Investigations in Florida

Doctor shopping occurs in Florida when a person visits several doctors in a short period of time so as to obtain multiple prescriptions for such drugs as painkillers. The most commonly abused painkillers are Oxycodone and Hydrocodone. These drugs are also the most commonly obtained by law enforcement when they investigate doctor shopping schemes. According to law enforcement officers in Florida, the most common signs or signals that a person is engaged in doctor shopping are as follows:

  • The individual is knowledgeable as to the brand and dosage of a certain type of medication during an office visit;
  • The individual appears to be nervous and pressed for time when attempting to obtain a prescription;
  • The individual starts to become demanding and upset if the prescription is not issued;
  • The individual attempts to influence the doctor to increase the amount of pills that he or she prescribes to him or her each month; 
  • The individual looking for a new prescription claims that he or she lost the pills or they were stolen;
  • The individual pays with cash for a prescription even though he or she has insurance;
  • The individual pays for the prescription medication out-of-pocket even if they have no source of income; and
  • The individual travels outside of the country to obtain a prescription.

In order to combat doctor shopping, Florida created an online drug database back in November of 2011 where physicians and pharmacists that dispense controlled substances such as painkillers must report the prescription within fifteen days of filling the prescription. This database enables doctors, law enforcement officers, and pharmacists to obtain information about individuals who are obtaining prescriptions from multiple physicians.

The Consequences of Doctor Shopping in Florida

If a person engages in doctor shopping in Florida, it is punishable as a third-degree felony, which carries with it a prison term of up to five years and a $5,000 monetary fine. A person can also be charged with drug trafficking based upon having the controlled substance in his or her possession. If a person is convicted of drug trafficking, he or she can be imprisoned for up to 25 years and face hefty monetary fines.

Lawyers for Doctor Shopping Offenses in Florida

If one of our clients believes that he or she has a prescription drug addiction problem, we at Musca Law help them to find the most effective treatment program available. Obtaining therapy for a drug addiction can help avoid future run-ins with the law. Specifically, this is a beneficial step to take as the prosecutor may choose not to pursue charges or may offer a more favorable resolution if he or she sees that an offender is making a good faith attempt to remain sober through substance abuse counseling. 

If you are being investigated for a drug-related crime, do not speak with law enforcement, including officers and detectives, until after you have consulted with a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney. If not, the statements you make may be used against you during a criminal proceeding. By choosing not to make a statement, you may have the ability to avoid being arrested and subject to prosecution. 

Contact Musca Law Today. Your Life and Your Liberty Depend Upon It!

Facing the prospects of a drug-related crime in Florida can be frightening, as is can drastically affect your life for years to come. When you work a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney at Musca Law, he or she will help you to challenge your drug-related charges to the fullest extent of the law. Our firm’s attorneys are among The National Trial Lawyers – Top 100 Trial Lawyers, included in the 2012 Florida Super Lawyers® for criminal defense, and boast 10.0 Superb Avvo ratings. Our attorneys are skilled, experienced, tenacious, and relentless when it comes to defending our clients. To learn more about how Musca Law can make a difference for you, call (888) 484-5057 today.