Upping the Ante in Pain Management Prosecutions: Orlando Area Doctor Charged With Drug Trafficking and Medicare Fraud

Dr. Jeffrey Freidlander of Lakeland , Florida was charged in the Middle District of Florida with trafficking in controlled substances including oxycontin, morphine and hydrocodone. The indictment alleges that the physician pre-signed prescriptions and allowed his staff of non-physicians to issue a large number of prescriptions for controlled substances. However, latest Indictment also alleges health care fraud for a number of purported types of false claims to Medicare including submitting claims for physical therapy procedures done by massage therapists.
In addition, the physician and several of his staff are charged with submitting claims for anesthetic procedures required to be performed by a physician called facet joint injections when in actuality unsupervised staff were performing much less expensive and complex trigger point injections.
The Medicare fraud allegations are the result of a superseding indictment (click here and here), that is, new charges added to the original indictable offenses. This apparently arises from the cooperation of one of the staff who had entered into a plea agreement with the government. Although the Medicare related allegations, if proven, would constitute fraud; it is generally not the types of fraud often pursued criminally by the federal government unless the dollar amounts are substantially high. It certainly appears that the fraud is the dog wagging the tail of the drug trafficking allegations. It would be interesting if that is also the route pursued in other investigations related to the dispensing of pain medications although most practices that specialize in pain management do not also provide other types of services reimbursable under Medicare.
For more click here.