According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 1999 to 2016 more than 200,000 people died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids. Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids were five times higher in 2016 than 1999. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has stated that a major contributor to this increase in overdose deaths has been the emergence of “pill mills,” locations where doctors write thousands of opioid prescriptions each year for “patients” who are drug abusers.
In today’s article the medical malpractice lawyer at the Doan Law Firm explains how such illegal drug distribution schemes are usually operated and then reviews the legal options that may be available to the victims, and families, of these “white jacket” criminals.
What is a “pill mill?”
In modern usage, a "pill mill' is a term that is used to describe a doctor, a medical clinic, or a pharmacy that is prescribing or dispensing powerful narcotics inappropriately or for non-medically-recognized reasons. According to the DEA website, most “pill mills” have several characteristics in common.
- Located in shopping centers/strip malls rather than near other medical offices
- “Cash only,” meaning that no insurance is accepted
- Presence of armed security guards
- Inadequate physical examinations
Large prescription doses of narcotics that exceed medical boundaries
Examples of these “pill mills” that were recently shut down by federal, state, and/or local law enforcement agencies include:
In 2017, Dr. Robert Rand was sentenced to 10 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and illegal distribution of a controlled substance in a Reno, Nevada-based illegal prescription painkiller operation. At the trial, federal prosecutors presented evidence that Rand had prescribed more than 1.2 million oxycodone pills and other opioids in 2014 and 2015 — more than 500,000 more than any other doctor in northern Nevada during that time period. A separate wrongful death lawsuit filed against Dr. Rand by the family of 33-year-old Michael Yenick is now working its way through the Nevada courts.
In 2015, the wife and parents of Dalewood Brewer Jr. filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Michael Resnick and his wife Alina Margulis, the owners of Healthy Life Medical Group in Timonium MD, as well as Doctors Daniel Alexander, Michael Durry and William Crittenden, who practiced at the clinic (all 3 had their medical licenses revoked by the State of Maryland during 2012). According to court documents, Healthy Life’s patients “… paid at least $300 for an initial visit and at least $250 for all subsequent visits and the fees were collected upfront …” The lawsuit notes that approximately 2,400 patients received prescriptions from Healthy Life on 8,100 separate visits between March 2011 and March 2012 and that each patient “received at least one prescription for oxycodone over 97% of the time…”
How a lawyer can help those victimized by “pill mills”
For the typical family that has been victimized by a “pill mill,” the most effective way to fight back against these criminals is by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the owners of these facilities and against the doctors who work in them.
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or some other medical professional commits an act that is “… improper, illegal, or negligent …” and knew, or should have known, that the act posed a danger to the patient and/or the community. Unlike a criminal charge, which must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” medical malpractice is a civil matter. In civil matters, the burden of proof is usually much less than that required to win a criminal conviction, even when the facts in both types of cases are essentially the same.
If you have lost a family member due to the greed of a “pill mill” owner or a doctor who put “personal profits before patients,” your best option is often to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the business’ owners and the doctors whose malpractice contributed to the scheme’s success.
In order to file a successful medical malpractice lawsuit, you will need the services of a personal injury lawyer with training and experience in areas of law such as:
- Corporation and business law
- Asset identification
- Standards of medical care
- Professional liability
One such lawyer with both the training and the courtroom experience necessary to win medical malpractice cases against “pill mill” operators, and the doctors that worked there, is the medical malpractice lawyer at the Doan Law Firm, a nationwide law practice with offices located in most major cities.
When you contact the medical malpractice lawyer at the Doan Law Firm to arrange a review of the facts surrounding your potential medical malpractice lawsuit against a “pill mill” owner or doctor, your initial case review is always free of any charges to you and does not obligate you to hire our firm to represent you. Should you decide to have us represent you in your medical malpractice lawsuit, we are willing to assume complete responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.