Pain Mills Are the New Pill Mills. Anyone Working in a Pain Clinic Must Be Cautious.
We’ve all heard the term “pill mills.” It’s something of a buzzword in the news these days. It’s a convenient, catch-all scapegoat for the country’s mounting drug addiction and overdose epidemic — a crisis fueled in large part by prescription painkiller abuse.
In fact, drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Some 20,000 of those deaths are caused by prescription painkillers. Another 13,000 are from heroin overdose, with the vast majority of new heroin abusers (80%) citing an earlier pain medication prescription as the root of their problem.
When these medicines are prescribed lawfully and in good faith, they’re given to treat intense pain, usually either chronic or severely acute.
It makes sense, then, that many of these prescriptions might originate inside pain clinics: health care centers that have confined their services primarily to the treatment of pain.
But it’s only recently that the term pain mill has begun to emerge as a buzzword all its own. “Pain mill,” of course, is a hybrid term that refers to a pain clinic accused of operating as a “pill mill” — that is, doling out painkilling opioid prescriptions in violation of federal law.
Pain clinics typically staff a variety of medical specialists comprising an interdisciplinary care team, ranging from doctors and nurses to psychologists, nutritionists, dieticians, physical therapists, and even career counselors.
Any of these professionals could find themselves in jeopardy of criminal prosecution, either on grounds of health care fraud or controlled substances felonies, in the wake of a pain mill investigation.
In fact, as we begin to hear more and more in the media about this whole concept of pain mills as an area for concern, it is very likely we will start to see a sharp increase in criminal charges filed against pain care professionals of all stripes.
Why Pain Treatment Professionals Should Hire Legal Counsel as Early as Possible
The federal government is currently on a rampage against fraud, waste, and abuse in the health care system. In terms of fraud, investigators are cracking down even on minor mistakes like improper coding on Medicare invoices. Meanwhile, in terms of abuse, federal agencies are now running sophisticated computer programs to actively monitor all painkilling prescriptions in the United States.
The slightest irregularity is enough to spark audits, investigations, and even undercover surveillance — all in the hopes of being able to indict as many health care providers as possible. This is the mandate of the DOJ, DEA, and federal agencies in the current political atmosphere, where health care fraud and abuse remain top concerns for voters.
If you are a care provider working in a pain clinic — or even if you are a non-medical professional at a pain clinic, or if you are an independent pharmacist filling prescriptions for a pain clinic — you must remain extremely vigilant in the face of pain mill investigations.
At the slightest suggestion of federal interest in your practice, we strongly urge you to get experienced legal representation on your side right away.
In fact, given that scrutiny is intensifying for pain clinics in particular, we are now encouraging all pain clinics to review their current policies and procedures with an experienced health care defense attorney to ensure compliance and avoid potential legal pitfalls.
Aggressive Legal Defense for Pain Clinics Accused of Operating as Pain Mills
Oberheiden, P.C. is a Dallas-based health care criminal defense law firm serving federal law clients across the nation. Our firm has successfully fought and defeated many medical fraud and controlled substances charges — both at the state and the federal level.
Our federal law defense attorneys are keeping a keen eye on pain mill crackdowns, and we stand ready to battle these often-hasty investigations on behalf of our clients.
We recommend that white-collar professionals working in the pain treatment fields ask for one of the following attorneys when contacting our office:
- Dr. Nick Oberheiden, an experienced attorney who has represented many health care professionals, medical executives, and public figures in cases ranging from controlled substances violations to Medicare fraud charges — any of which may prove relevant to a pain mill case.
- Bill McMurrey, who was formerly a federal trial attorney for the United States Department of Justice trial attorney, as well as the former Chief Coordinator for Health Care Fraud (Health Care Fraud Section) for the federal government. Mr. McMurrey now puts his vast experience to work for health care providers like you.
- Lynette Byrd, a former Assistant United States Attorney who focused on health care fraud during her time in the government. Ms. Byrd is skilled as a negotiator, litigator, and a courtroom warrior. Her diverse skill set has enabled her to achieve victories on behalf of many of our firm’s clients, including some of our most challenging and complex cases.
- Elizabeth Stepp earned her law degree from the prestigious Yale Law School and wasted no time in building a more than 20-year career of effective advocacy both in trial litigation and on appeal. She is available to assist pill mill and pain mill clients in preparing for trial, pursuing appeals, and strategically negotiating in the face of complex or frightening criminal charges.
Is Your Pain Clinic Under Investigation? Set Up a Free Consultation with Oberheiden, P.C. Today
Don’t face the government alone. The experienced criminal federal law defense attorneys at Oberheiden, P.C. are standing by during every hour of every day to help you in your time of need.
Contact our office and ask for a free consultation as early as possible: (888) 727-0472.
Compliance – Litigation – Defense