What Exactly Is Doctor Shopping?

doctor shopping

Consider the following scenario: a patient seeks out pain medication from their doctor. A second doctor soon prescribes more medication. As long as doctors keep prescribing medication, the cycle persists.

“Doctor shopping” describes this practice. This is not only a threat to public safety, but it’s highly illegal as well.

Discover the facts behind this crime and why it is considered a crime by continuing reading.

Doctor Shopping, What Is It?

By definition, a prescription is purchased from multiple healthcare providers without the prescriber knowing about other prescriptions.

Healthcare systems are often manipulated by patients who find loopholes to self-medicate or self-prescribe.

Also called prescription fraud, doctor shopping is an illegal practice.

How Is It Done? 

People can implement this practice in several ways, including:

  • Falsifying prescription history
  • Leaving out important information
  • Performing self-injurious acts on purpose
  • Falsely claiming symptoms 
  • Fraudulent medical practitioners creating fake prescriptions
  • Pharmacists selling drugs to patients
  • Forging a prescription or altering it

What Are They Looking For? 

Doctor shoppers are typically interested in narcotics, although the range of drugs can vary widely.

There are also barbiturates, stimulants, tranquilizers, and benzodiazepines that are commonly abused.

In doctor shopping cases, the most common substances are:

Why Turn To Doctor Shopping? 

It is often because of dependency on one or more substances that people become involved in prescription fraud. As soon as these substances run out or can’t be accessed, they turn to other, more criminal, means to maintain their dependency.

Another common habit of doctor shoppers is to start with what was originally just a legitimate prescription. However, although they began medicating out of need, substance abuse can lead to medicating out of want, which becomes a criminal offense. 

Having become addicted to the drug, the individual uses doctor shopping to acquire more pills and abuse them.

In addition to obtaining drugs, some also sell them by engaging in these practices. Dealers can purchase large amounts of substances and then sell them for a profit.

Is It Common? 

You might be surprised at how everyday doctor shopping actually is. 

22,810 deaths attributed to prescription drug overdose were among the 41,000 drug overdose deaths in 2011. This is the age of the overdose epidemic, according to healthcare professionals.

Some states have rates as low as 6.5%, while others have rates as high as 53%.

How Does A Doctor Shopper Get Caught?

Doctor Shoppers don’t realize that their medical history and controlled substance fills are accessible to the pharmacy team. If multiple doctors or pharmacies filled your order, they could report you to the authorities or physicians.

If a doctor or pharmacist suspects a patient is a little too eager for a controlled substance, they can check on their patient records. This type of platform is called prescription drug monitoring programs, and it was created to prevent prescription drug abuse.

The Laws In Place

Despite the habit of doctor shopping being dishonest or below the counter, most never realize the extent of their actions.

The federal government prohibits doctor shopping. The law considers you a criminal if you commit prescription fraud.

It is possible to prosecute doctor shopping as prescription fraud (HS11173) depending on the state laws. According to Federal law, cheating at getting a controlled substance is prohibited by fraud, deceit, or concealment of facts. 

The Penalties 

This form of substance abuse can be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor. This will vary depending on the defendant’s criminal background and the specifics of the case.

The maximum penalty is a $1000 fine. Summary probation and up to a year in county jail is the minimum penalties.

If the situation is deemed severe, it will be charged as a felony and punished by formal probation, a maximum fine of $20,000, and 2-3 years in county jail.

Drug addiction first-time offenders may avoid a prison sentence if they enroll in a drug treatment facility or program voluntarily.

Why Is It so Dangerous? 

As a result of its extreme danger, this malpractice is illegal. Indeed, taking one prescription as prescribed can’t harm you, but taking multiple medications at once can have serious health consequences.

As a result, anyone with a drug abuse disorder, addiction to harmful substances, or who suffers a fatal overdose could become worse.

Signs Someone You Know Could Be Doctor Shopping

If you suspect your loved one is indulging in prescription fraud, make sure you address the issue as soon as possible.

The following symptoms are common in doctor shoppers:

  • Claims of theft or loss of a prescription
  • Despite having insurance, you pay cash for medication/doctor visits
  • Increasing the dosage
  • If asked about their medication or apparent symptoms, there is anxiety
  • Fluctuations in mood
  • Problems with finances

Shopping for a doctor is a serious offense with harmful consequences. As a result, emotional and physical wellbeing can be severely harmed, and toxic substances can be abused. As well as jail time and criminal records, it can lead to lifelong drug addiction.

You can, however, overcome this habit. For those with prescription abuse and overdose, behavioral therapy and medication offer the best treatment options. 

Do not hesitate to contact us as soon as you observe doctor shopping signs. For more information about our drug detoxification program and to get your loved ones the help they need, contact ReAlign Detox today.