A recent plea bargain by a Jacksonville pill mill doctor provides a glimpse into how these pill mills can be so lucrative for doctors and their business partners who are willing to ignore patient safety. Dr. Thomas Holland recently plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute and posssess with intent to distribute Oxycodone before a federal court in Jacksonville. He faces up to 20 years in prison, and a fine of up to $1 million. Dr. Holland was involved in pill mills in the Jacksonville area known as the Jacksonville Pain Clinic, Duval Wellness, and First Coast Pain.
According to Dr. Holland’s own statement in his plea agreement, he had an agreement with a businessman who owned the pill mills wherein Dr. Holland would be paid $40 to $60 per patient seen. Dr. Holland would generally see 30 to 35 patient per day, and would prescribe them huge amounts of Oxycodone, Soma, Xanax, and other powerful drugs without doing any meaningful health assessments.
Most of the patients at the pills mills where Dr. Holland worked were completely uninsured, and paid between $250 and $300 for each visit with the doctor. Many patients visited the clinic frequently, and traveled some distance to see the doctor and get their prescriptions. Back pain was the most common medical complaint.
I comment on pill mills frequently on this blog, and the arrangement in Jacksonville raises some red flags in my view. These days many people seem to automatically assume that any medical facility that calls itself a pain clinic is actually a pill mill. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many honest, caring, and trustworthy physicians who are dedicated to treating people suffering with chronic pain in a responsible and safe manner.
However, how is a patient to know whether a given pain clinic is legitimate, or a pill mill. Here are some factors to consider:
1. Does the doctor or his staff insist upon conducting a thorough physical examination and taking a thorough patient history before prescribing any drugs?
2. Does the doctor or his staff insist upon regular drug-testing of his patients in order to determine if the medicine in his patient’s system matches the type and amount that the doctor has prescribed?
3. Is the clinic a cash-only business? Does the clinic accept health insurance?
4. Does the clinic issue prescriptions to be filled at a pharmacy, or does the clinic dispense medicine from within in exchange for cash?
5. Does the clinic prescribe medicine in amounts that allow for frequent monitoring of the patient’s medicine use, or does the clinic prescribe pain medication in increments of hundreds or thousands of pills?
6. Does the clinic seem to treat local patients, or do the license plates in the clinic’s parking lot come from a multitude of different states?
It doesn’t take much common sense to see that pill mills serve no legitimate purpose, and pose a significant public health risk. As an Orlando pill mill wrongful death law firm, we fully support law enforcement and the Florida Department of Health in their efforts to shut down pill mills.
If you have any questions regarding pill mills, call Winter Park accident attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-644-4444.