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Understand and protect yourself against prescription fraud

Prescription fraud is a big problem in the medical field, because it could mean that restricted prescriptions are making it out into the general population in large amounts. As a medical provider, it is your responsibility to understand if and when a patient should take a certain medication. Overprescribing to patients, taking bribes or receiving kickbacks can all lead to trouble. 

If you are a pharmacist, you should know you are obligated to learn the state and federal requirements for dispensing controlled substances and must uphold those laws. Pharmacists are some of the only people who can stop drug abuse, since they are familiar with patients, their prescription histories and the appearance of drug abuse or doctor shopping.

Another thing that pharmacists and medical providers need to do is protect themselves against drug diversion. If you are, for example, filling a large order for opiates and notice the patient has been receiving these large orders from multiple doctors and pharmacies, it's a good idea to get in touch with these professionals and identify if the prescriptions are legitimate. If the prescribing doctors don't realize the patient is doctor shopping, they won't necessarily stop providing refills. That's where a pharmacist can play an important role. 

What kinds of fraudulent prescriptions are there?

There are a few types of fraudulent prescriptions. Some include:

  • Prescriptions written on stolen prescription pads
  • Prescriptions written for fictitious patients
  • Altered prescriptions, where the quantity or number of refills has been adjusted
  • Prescriptions with larger quantities than typical
  • Prescriptions that are presented by one patient but have names for multiple patients. For example, a patient may try to fill three prescriptions from three different providers for the same drugs while using different patient names

Prescription fraud can be committed by pharmacists, doctors, nurses, patients and others. Any time there is any kind of question about a prescription, it's essential that the pharmacist and medical provider are in communication with one another. This may not catch every case of prescription fraud, but it is a good way to protect yourself as a pharmacist or doctor if you sense that something isn't right about a particular patient or prescription.

Unfortunately, even if you're doing your job well and correctly, you could be accused of prescription fraud. That's why you should be cautious about the drugs you fill and the patients that you give them to.

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