Given the tough crackdown on Florida’s “pill mills,” it appears that Georgia may be becoming the new epicenter for patients to come and get copious amounts of controlled substances. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Atlanta division, the DeKalb District Attorney, Georgia’s Drugs and Narcotics Agency, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) have recently teamed up with local law enforcement to lead raids on “pill mill” pain clinics and pharmacies in seven Georgia counties. Multiple people have been arrested in each raid, including doctors, pharmacists, and pain clinic owners. According to NBC’s Atlanta affiliate 11Alive, Georgia recently passed a law that creates a database which tracks the prescription of painkillers, but this database won’t be running till 2013.
Some of the doctors have been accused of prescribing massive doses of oxycodone after a patient evaluation of less than three minutes. These patients would then allegedly be sent to pharmacies that were willing to fill prescriptions without asking any questions, paying a marked-up price for these illegal services. Some lawmakers are calling for tougher laws to combat the ease at which people can obtain prescriptions for controlled substances in the state. Estimates by the DEA Atlanta field division guess that Georgia has about ninety functioning pill mills, up more than fourfold from just a few years ago.
Medical negligence and malpractice cases in the United States are usually settled in civil court, with the doctor having to financially compensate the victim or the victim’s family, but criminal convictions are on the rise as well. Reuters reports that in 2003, the DEA reported 15 physician arrests that resulted in convictions, a number that grew to 43 for the year 2008. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 1999 to 2006, fatal overdoses from prescription painkillers more than tripled to 13,800 in the United States. In Georgia, deaths from prescription drug overdose increased by 10 percent from 2009 to 2010.
The rollout of the database in 2013 and continuing crackdowns on Georgia’s “pill mills” will hopefully lessen the impact and scope of painkiller addictions and overdoses in the state. It is extremely dangerous for patients to be prescribed large doses of controlled substances after short or non-existent examinations. These actions could amount to medical malpractice, and violate a doctor’s responsibility to the health of each patient.
If you or a family member has been injured by a powerful prescription drug, contact a dedicated Atlanta medical malpractice attorney to see if you are eligible to receive compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.