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What is Doctor Shopping in Florida?

It seems there is a newspaper article at least once a week reporting that someone is arrested for "doctor shopping". See today's article regarding a Sarasota woman who was arrested for "shopping" for oxycodone and hydrocodone. While doctor shopping appears in the news lately, there is no "doctor shopping" charge in Florida. Then what is doctor shopping?

Doctor shopping can entail multiple charges. The most common "doctor shopping" charge, and the specific one mentioned in the above referenced article, is withholding information from a physician. Florida law requires a person seeking a prescription for a controlled substance to tell a physician if they have received a prescription for a controlled substance from another physician within the last 30 days. If it is found that an individual has obtained multiple prescriptions for a certain drug within 30 days, that person may be charged with withholding information from a physician to obtain a controlled substance. This scenario makes it appear as if a person is "shopping" for multiple doctors to obtain drugs.

Another common charge is obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. This can also involve "shopping" for a doctor by looking for a doctor who will believe some fake ailment, forged medical history, or some other fraudulent behavior that would allow a person to obtain whatever controlled substance they seek. This charge could also include the theft of prescription pads and forging prescriptions in a doctor's name without his or her knowledge.

The most serious charge that could come out of "doctor shopping" is trafficking in a controlled substance. Trafficking is a combination of proving one possessed the drug and that one possessed a certain amount. The amount generally varies on the specific substance. Trafficking charges also carry mandatory minimum prison sentences and fines. The amount of prison and fine varies on how much one was carrying. While it seems counterintuitive for the State to file a trafficking charge when it is unlikely that a person is actually carrying the drugs for which they had a prescription, the State will often attempt to do so. The State will argue that the person possessed the drugs at the time he picked them up from the pharmacy and they will attempt to prove the weight by having a pharmacist testify as to the amount filled according to the prescription.

Whatever the specific charge is, "doctor shopping" charges can have very severe consequences including probation, fines, jail, or prison time. It is important that you are properly represented by an attorney that is familiar with these charges and knows how to defend you. The attorneys at Soler and Slack, P.A. have handled these and many other drug offenses. Call us at (941)444-5128 for more information.

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