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Government study spotlights prescribing habits of problem MDs

On Behalf of | Jun 25, 2013 | Uncategorized

Drug-related  mistakes committed by a New Jersey doctor or a physician in some other state can encompass a number of diverse factors and situations. Doctors sometimes prescribe the wrong drug to a patient. Occasionally, the wrong dose of a medication is administered, or a medicine finds its way to a patient who has been misidentified. These are all examples of medication error that commonly occurs across the country and sometimes has serious and even fatal consequences for patients. 

Where does a doctor fit in, though, who acts purposely and with full knowledge that his prescribing may be flatly dangerous to a patient? A doctor, for example, who writes prescriptions at a rate that is more than 150 times the national average? Or a physician for whom nearly 80 percent of all prescriptions written are for Schedule II drugs — those deemed as having the highest potential for abuse and thus tightly controlled, such as morphine and oxycodone?

Such doctors are termed “extreme outliers” in a newly issued government report addressing the Medicare drug program, a rich vein of possibility for those who can write large numbers of prescriptions and be reimbursed by American taxpayers.

That element of fraud, coupled with the clear danger presented to patients by cavalier prescribing practices (as well as the opportunity presented for some drug recipients to sell large amounts of highly addictive drugs to third parties) has resulted in the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services calling for tighter oversight of the program by Medicare officials.

The need for that is clearly great and urgent. Twenty percent of the physicians participating in the Medicare program prescribe about 65 percent of all medications, and a mere 700 doctors — the outliers — have a stunningly outsized effect on the drugs prescribed and sold. One media account focusing upon them calls their prescribing habits “highly questionable” and states that they are “wasting staggering sums of money.”

Medicare officials cite agreement with the report, which urges better fraud-detection training and peer-comparison report cards sent to doctors focused upon their prescription history.

Source: Medscape Today, “Potentially harmful Medicare prescribing by more than 700 docs: report,” Mark Crane, June 21, 2013

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