Doctor Claims He Gave Me My Prescription, But Never Did...

by Patricia
(Oakland, NJ, USA)

I had been seeing a pain management doctor for nearly three years for herniated discs, arthritis in my back, and osteoporosis. The excruciating pain came when I herniated the discs in a slip and fall injury on my back outside stairs.

The doctor had me on (4) 10mg. percocets and (2) extended (12 hour release) morphine sulfate capsules for nearly 3 years. We had a wonderful relationship and I agreed that upon leaving I'd cut down to 3 percocets daily. This was to be my last visit, on October 30, 2012, and the doctor gave me an oral referral for a suboxone doctor in the same building for my December visit.

The power was out due to Hurricane Sandy, and I was unable to pay with my debit card, since the machinery had no power. No problem, we agreed I would be billed. However, both the Doctor (and his receptionist) CLAIM that they gave me my two printed out prescriptions for my 2 pain medications for November. I was NEVER given the printed OR written prescriptions for the two meds I was on.

I have been in horrendous pain for over 2 weeks, and of course had to "come off" both medications "cold turkey," since they insisted they had given me the RX's and that I had LOST them. I was never given the prescriptions to bring to the pharmacy, but did not realize it until I was back at home.

Do I have any legal right to a copy of the supposed prescriptions, printed out with TODAY'S DATE at the bottom (as computers automatically do)?

I do not believe the prescriptions for that month were ever given to me. I had a wonderful relationship with the Doctor, I do not drink alcohol at all, nor do I engage in ANY illegal drug behavior. I also have never abused my meds. I always had some "left over" at the end of the month, in cases when I did not need all 4 percocet on a given day or fell asleep without remembering to take my nightly extended morphine sulfate capsules.

What recourse do I have?

I have finally found a new pain management doctor in my insurance network to continue treatment, not only with the meds I had been on for this awful pain, but eventually to be "weaned off" and go on Suboxone, have physical therapy, etc. I am in so much pain I cannot function in my daily life, and feel as though this doctor deserted me.

Do I have a right to copies of these supposed November prescriptions? I checked with my pharmacist and the scripts have NEVER been filled ANYWHERE, according to the computers which would "catch it," even if they had been filled at a different pharmacy.

Please help me with this, I am in terrible pain. Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Doctor Claims He Gave Me My Prescription, But Never Did...":

Patricia ( Oakland, New Jersey, USA):

If the original physician was in private practice at the time he or one of his employees say the prescriptions were physically handed to you, and they refuse to voluntarily give you the proof you need to be satisfied, the only way you would have a right to such evidence would be as part of a lawsuit.

In a lawsuit, as part of "Discovery" your attorney would have a right to subpoena - "subpoena duces tecum" - the computerized medical records which purport to prove the prescriptions were actually written and handed to you.

You do have a legitimate right to ask the physician for copies of your medical records. Whether those records will help you learn whether the prescriptions were physically handed to you is doubtful. At this point, without access to the physician's computer, it appears it will continue to be your word against theirs.

There have been cases where unscrupulous employees of large pain management centers have secreted prescriptions supposed to have been given to patients. In those cases those employees usually sold the prescriptions on the "black market" or used the prescriptions to purchase Percocet or similar opiates to be sold or used by the employee himself. Although we aren't suggesting that is what happened to you, it isn't impossible for such an event to occur.

If you were taking Percocet or similar opiates for 3 years you were no doubt addicted to them. Suboxone is a relatively new drug and has been called a "miracle drug." It is used to help those addicted to opiates to discontinue using them without the horrors of withdrawal.

Patient "abandonment" or "deserting" patients is inappropriate behavior which may subject a physician who did so to discipline. The facts you present offer no indication the physician abandoned you. If it is later proved he was mistaken and did not hand you the prescriptions, that might be evidence of your being abandoned, especially as his doing so resulted in unnecessary pain and discomfort.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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