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Can a controlled substance be prescribed without treatment or a diagnosis?

In the midst of a National Opioid crisis, “doctor shopping” is a common practice amongst citizens in the United States. Commonly, a person sustains an injury, seeks medical attention, is prescribed physical therapy and an Opioid for pain management. Pain continues (even phantom pain), and the patient continues to seek refills on the prescription. The treating physician indicates that they will no longer prescribe if they are not willing to explore alternative forms of treatment. Patient then makes an appointment with another physician, etc., etc., hence the term, “doctor shopping.”

The California Statute in the Health and Safety Code 11154 strictly prohibits the prescription and/or distribution of medication without a form of treatment and/or diagnosis. More specifically, a controlled substance that is distributed or prescribed while not under the care of a licensed physician is a crime in the State of California.

11354 HS states that “(a) Except in the regular practice of his or her profession, no person shall knowingly prescribe, administer, dispense, or furnish a controlled substance to or for any person or animal which is not under his or her treatment for a pathology or condition other than addiction to a controlled substance, except as provided in this division. (b) No person shall knowingly solicit, direct, induce, aid, or encourage a practitioner authorized to write a prescription to unlawfully prescribe, administer, dispense, or furnish a controlled substance.”

A second major violation of this code is the prescriptive authorization of psychotropic medication by a physician/psychiatrist without the consultation and evaluation from a mental health professional. More than ever, patients are being prescribed psychotropic medication by means that do not include  face-to-face consultation or evaluation. Many citizens are leaving their primary care physician’s office with a prescription without ever seeking or receiving the services of a mental health expert or psychiatrist. 

Commonly, physician’s and other prescriptive authorities find themselves prescribing antidepressants or anti anxiolytic medications in conjunction with a common office visit, rather than taking into account that although they have prescriptive authority, they do not specialize, nor have they administered an appropriate mental health assessment, making such prescriptions a direct violation of the California Health and Safety Code 11154

Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law group patiently await your call.

H Law Group Online

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