The Offense Known as 'Doctor Shopping'

By Lowry Law Firm | Posted on July 31, 2015

In recent years, there’s been a lot of attention focused on Florida’s “pill mills,” where prescription painkillers are dispensed indiscriminately. But it’s possible to break the law in any Florida doctor’s office if you request a prescription for a controlled substance without mentioning that you recently received a prescription for the same substance from a different doctor.

Obtaining controlled substances from different doctors without their knowledge is commonly referred to as “doctor shopping.” Florida Statute 893.13, which is titled Drug Abuse Prevention and Control, explicitly criminalizes doctor shopping.

What, Exactly, Does the Law Say?

The relevant paragraph pertaining to this offense is available under 893.13. Ultimately, it provides that if you don’t have a legitimate need for a controlled substance (such as prescription painkillers), it is illegal to try to obtain them from a medical practitioner through any kind of deception. And if you have already received a prescription for that substance from a different practitioner, and that prescription is not supposed to have run out yet, then failing to mention the existing prescription is considered a form of deception.

“A Controlled Substance of Like Therapeutic Use”

The statute also declares that a person may not:

“Withhold information from a practitioner from whom the person seeks to obtain a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance that the person making the request has received a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance of like therapeutic use from another practitioner within the previous 30 days.”

The mention of “a prescription for a controlled substance of like therapeutic use” is important language. It means that it is possible to violate the law even if the prescription you are requesting is for a different medication than the one you were recently prescribed.

For example, let’s say one doctor writes you a prescription for a month’s worth of Oxycontin, and then two weeks later you go to a different doctor and request a prescription for Percocet (which, like Oxycontin, is an opiate painkiller). If you don’t mention to the Oxycontin prescription to the second doctor, then you will have violated Statute 893.13, because Oxycontin and Percocet have similar therapeutic uses.

Fighting Charges of Doctor Shopping

Many people who engage in “doctor shopping” have no idea that they’re breaking the law. But doctor shopping is a drug offense, and a conviction for any kind of drug offense is a serious business. If you’ve been charged, you should consider speaking to experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Mark S. Lowry.