Friday, June 21, 2013

Granny Bird Award: Doctors Who Write Questionable Prescriptions

This edition of the Granny Bird Award, given from time to time by those who adversely affect the rights and benefits of elders, goes to those doctors identified in a recent report as issuing prescriptions for questionable drugs or over-prescribing medications as identified in a recent report noted in the Washington Post.

More than 700 doctors nationwide wrote prescriptions for elderly and disabled patients in highly questionable and potentially harmful ways, according to a report of Medicare’s drug program released Thursday.

The review by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services flags those doctors as “very extreme” in their prescribing and says Medicare should do more to investigate or stop them. ...

The inspector general’s report focused on the prescribing by nearly 87,000 general-care physicians, such as family practitioners and internists, in urban and suburban areas in 2009. These doctors accounted for about half of all the prescribing in the program that year.

The review found more than 2,200 doctors whose records stood out in one of several areas: prescriptions per patient, brand-name drugs, painkillers and other addictive drugs, or the number of pharmacies that dispensed their orders.

Of those, 736 were flagged as “extreme outliers.” Their patterns, the report says, raised questions about whether the prescriptions were “legitimate or necessary.” ...

The cost to the government was enormous in some instances. Medicare paid $9.7 million for the prescriptions of one California doctor alone — that is 151 times more than the cost of an average doctor’s tally, the report says.

Most of this physician’s drugs were supplied by two pharmacies, both of which the inspector general had identified previously as having questionable billing practices.   [Emphasis added]

Whether for fraudulent purposes or because of just plain sloppy medical management, these doctors cost Medicare/Medicaid a ton of money.  At a time when this very important program for elders and the disabled is under attack by all parts of the federal government, such behavior is extremely angry-making and needs to be stopped in its tracks now.  Hopefully CMS and the DOJ will come down hard on the miscreants.

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