An osteopathic physician in Illinois was just sentenced to 1 year in prison for writing alprazolam prescriptions for patients for nontherapeutic use. According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri, he 1) didn’t examine the six patients he was prescribing for, 2) knew there was no medical need for the drugs, and 3) had knowledge that the drugs would be sold or abused. Not surprisingly, it was also shown that he did not document the prescriptions. The physician was indicted on 13 counts of illegal prescribing of controlled substances and other charges, ultimately pleading guilty to a single count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. While criminal intent seems clear in this case, it should still serve as a reminder that following the letter of the law is essential when prescribing controlled substances in the urgent care center, especially those that are known to be used by some for illicit purposes or to feed addictions. Failing to do so not only puts patients and those around them in danger, but also leaves the prescriber and their employer at risk for prosecution and litigation.

Ensure You Can Justify Every Prescription, or Face the Consequences