A Quad-Cities doctor has been fined for improperly prescribing pain medication to unfamiliar patients over the internet. Following an investigation triggered by a national news report featuring the Davenport doctor, the Iowa Board of Medicine found that the doctor prescribed medicine without properly obtaining medical history or interviewing patients.
In his defense, the doctor claimed that he was under the impression that the patients he was prescribing the pain medication to were being screened by the third party internet company to ensure that the prescribed meds were appropriate. In reality, some customers merely had to fill out an online request resulting in a shipment of the meds bearing the doctor’s approval.
In the settlement reached last week, the doctor agreed to pay a 10k fine and not to participate in telemedicine until he demonstrates that he is able to do so in a safe manner, with prior approval from the board.
In retrospect, the doctor may have dodged a bigger problem as medication errors can be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit or the loss of a medical license. Before prescribing a medication, a doctor must thoroughly understand the patient’s condition as well as any other medications the patient might be taking, to avoid complications or dangerous drug interactions.
A doctor is liable for prescribing the wrong medication, the wrong dosage, a medication that cannot be mixed with a patient’s other medications, or a medication to which the patient is allergic. Prescribing drugs over the internet requires proper procedures and oversight to prevent injury to consumers.
Source: The Des Moines Register, “Doctor Fined for Improper Internet Prescriptions” , by Tony Leys, February 10, 2016.