Over the past few months, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have been in the news for taking stringent actions against those facilitating opioid abuse and addiction across the United States. But some industry observers are strongly opposed to this belief and feel that a number of federal actions taken in the past few months have exceeded the acceptable limits and actually created numerous troubles for the treatment providers. According to them, the search warrants issued by the agents on those offering medication assisted treatment (MAT) to those dealing with addiction have no valid justification.
Michael Barnes, managing partner at DCBA Law & Policy, said that Sessions and the Department of Justice under his supervision are not aligned with the way President Donald Trump’s administration has been handling the opioid crisis. DCBA Law & Policy is an enterprising law and public policy firm representing a group of MAT providers who have been targeted in the past few months for offering the treatment in the court of law.
On behalf of its clients, the DCBA Law & Policy recently wrote a letter to President Trump mentioning the ways in which the raids by DOJ, investigations and prosecutions are putting the patients’ lives and communities at risk. It sought the dismissal of Sessions as the Attorney General, suspension of DOJ criminal investigations against physicians prescribing FDA-approved MAT, and develop a process to ensure that the criminal investigations are conducted only with referrals from state licensing boards. This would enable the health care providers to perform their duties well.
Call for examination of medical misconduct
Barnes suggested that the state medical board should examine any questionable medical conduct, such as suspected diversion or overprescribing of medications or violation of accepted standards by the physicians. The investigation should be used as a ground to understand whether the offense deserves suspension of the practitioner’s license or calls for action from the law enforcement.
Barnes also said that the lack of sufficient resources might make it difficult for certain boards to follow up on every situation. Therefore, it is recommended to divert some of the federal opioid-related funds to medical boards so that they may use it for the required purpose. Barnes’ firm is also contributing in this direction by offering free services to develop a policy that can be used for a medical-board-referral requirement before the federal investigation or prosecution of physicians begins.
The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) had prepared a brief in 2009 that talked specifically about the best practices that can be followed to investigate the possible diversion of pain medications. Although the brief was supported by the attorneys general, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and other law enforcement officials, FSMB’s chief advocacy officer Lisa Robin said that the plan was more suitable for medications that are used to treat addiction disorders.
Robin emphasized on the need of having professionals with medical expertise. She said that the federation’s template calls for medical expertise to evaluate a physician’s conduct. “We worked for years with DEA and state medical boards and law enforcement, urging that there be cooperation in the investigations, that you look at the practice, and that there be expertise in the medical field to gauge if the provider was negligent or strayed away from standard of care,” she added.
Maintaining proper documentation may help
The best way to avoid any sort of legal complications by the treatment facilities is maintaining proper documentation when prescribing MAT drugs to any patient. It is also important to ensure that there are no illegal practices like diversion of medicated drugs. Instead, the focus should be more on offering the best suitable treatment to the concerned individual.
If you or a loved one is addicted to opioids and is in need of one of the best opioid addiction treatment, Sovereign Health can offer the best rehabilitation center. Our state-of-the-art opioid addiction treatment centers make sure that each patient is treated meeting individual requirements to help them attain sobriety. To know about our opioid treatment centers, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with our representative.
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