Law Enforcement Focuses on Pain Clinics, Ignoring Patients Who Suffer

drugs_1.jpgAccording to an article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, at least 45 pain clinics opened in Broward and Palm Beach counties in the past year, while state law makers and state and local law enforcement agencies stepped-up their efforts to put an end to the operation suspected “pill mills.”
In August 2008, 66 pain clinics were open for business in Broward and Palm Beach counties combined. The Sun-Sentinel article reports that according to data available from the Florida Department of Health, the number centers issuing narcotic pain medications currently is more than the times what it was in August 2008 – with 122 in Broward to 122 and in Palm Beach County to 108.
Pain clinics “are proliferating despite our efforts,” Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti said last week, after state and federal agents executed search warrants at three pain clinics owned or controlled by Christopher and Jeffrey George in Palm Beach County. The Georges’ homes were also searched.
No arrests have been made yet, however, a federal law law suit has been filed in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach. According to the law suit, three of the Georges’ clinics collected $14 million last year and dispensed more than 2.1 million pills. [To read the law suit, click: here.] Additionally, five doctors who worked at the clinics have had their DEA numbers to prescribe pain medications suspended. The doctors can either voluntarily agree to the suspension or can challenge the suspension before a DEA Administrative Law Judge at a hearing scheduled for May.
Independent sources close to the investigation indicate that patient files were properly documented, regular MRI’s were required and prescriptions that issued were 100% medically necessary. From time to time, patients who were suspected of phony symptom ology were discovered, refused treatment and escorted off the premises. If you or someone you know has ever suffered from debilitating pain, then no one has to tell you that life can be pure hell without taking pain medication just to get through the day and attempting to perform even the simplest of tasks. The real tragedy in the “gung-ho, rah, rah” attitude of law enforcement targeting pain clinics, is that the overwhelming majority of patients have well-documented injuries requiring pain medication for treatment. These legitimate pain sufferers are the forgotten “victims” who unfortunately wind up as unintended by-product caught in the overreaching net of law enforcement, much like innocent dolphins caught in the nets of profit-driven commercial fisherman.
Palm Beach County and several cities in both counties have temporarily banned new pain clincs, reported by the HCFB here and here. “Palm Beach County is ahead of us [in law enforcement efforts aimed at detecting criminal activities at pain clinics]. We’re [Broward County is] trying to play catch up now,” Lamberti said. “On the street, [there are] too many targets, not enough deputies. We’re really trying to be hard on it because it causes crime in the community. We think they know we are serious.”
To read the Sun-Sentinel article, click here.