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Unintentional prescription drug charges in the medical industry

The public often stereotypes drug crimes, but anyone anywhere can commit them. When drug crimes occur among the medical community, the first thought may be of shady providers running pill mills for profit or abusing drugs themselves and then trying to perform their work.

While these situations most certainly do happen, they are not fully representative of the different ways professionals in the medical field may find themselves facing drug charges. In many cases, it can be due to simple, unintentional errors.

Prescription errors

Prescription drugs are considered controlled substances by federal law, demanding the permission and supervision of a doctor for patient use to prevent abuse and addiction. However, some patients know how to cheat the system. They may go "doctor shopping" to obtain more pills for personal use or to sell.

Tennessee has tried to reduce this risk by passing the Prescription Safety Act of 2016, which improves submitting to and checking the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database. The information in the database can help providers identify those trying to get multiple prescriptions. Failure to use the database may lead to professional and legal disciplinary action for doctors.

With the rise of opioid abuse, addiction and overdose, providers also have the dilemma of how to know when to prescribe these drugs, reports an article in the American Journal of Law and Medicine. Also, they may make a mistake in how much drugs to obtain for a patient, causing law enforcement to believe them to be illegally supplying extra drugs to an addict or distributor.

Accidental possession

Those in the medical industry handle various types of medications and other substances throughout the workday. They may accidentally have prescription drugs still in possession coming from work. Perhaps they were about to dispose of them properly, but an emergency came up and the person forgot to finish the task afterward. Maybe they are for legal personal use, but the pill is out of the bottle for a later dose, resulting in criminal accusations. Whatever the error, it can have serious ramifications.

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