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Law: Doctor Shopping

What are Doctor Shopping Laws?

The term “doctor shopping” has traditionally referred to a patient obtaining controlled substances from multiple health care practitioners without the prescribers’ knowledge of the other prescriptions. Almost all states have a “general” fraud statute that adopts verbatim or with slight alteration the provision in the Uniform Narcotic Drug Act of 1932 or the Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 1970. These statutes prohibit obtaining drugs, including through “doctor shopping,” by any or all of the following means: fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, subterfuge, or concealment of material fact.

This resource distinguishes between general statutes and laws categorized as “specific” doctor shopping laws. Specific doctor shopping laws prohibit patients from withholding from any health care practitioner that they have received either any controlled substance or prescription order from another practitioner, or the same controlled substance or one of similar therapeutic use within a specified time interval or at any time previously.

States with Doctor Shopping Laws

This map reflects all doctor shopping laws: specific, general, and states with both general and specific laws.

This map reflects all doctor shopping laws: Specific, general, and states with both general and specific, listed in the text below the map. AK HI CA OR WA ID NV AZ UT MT ND WY CO NM TX OK NE SD MN IA MO AR LA MS AL GA FL SC TN NC KY VA WV WI MI IL IN OH PA NY ME CT DC DE MA MD NH NJ RI VT

Note: All laws enacted as of August 31, 2010.

34 states with only a “general” doctor shopping law

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Delaware, Illinois, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin

1 state with only a “specific” doctor shopping law

Florida

15 states with both “specific” and “general” doctor shopping laws

Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming

Features of Doctor Shopping Laws by State

Features

Aspects of Feature

States

General Law

Includes only language from Uniform Controlled Substance Act prohibiting obtaining/acquiring a controlled substance through “misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge”

AK, DC, DE, IL, LA, MI, MN, MS, NE, NV, NJ, ND, OR, SD, TX, UT, WV, WY

Includes additional language prohibiting non-disclosure using broad “non-disclosure” or “concealment” or “withholding” of “material fact” or "information" reference (similar to Uniform Narcotics Act)

AL, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, HI, GA, ID, IN, IA, KY, MD, MA, MO, MT, NH, NM, NY, NC, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, VT, VA, WA, WI

Prohibits "deceit" or "deception," but does not follow Uniform Substances Act or Uniform Narcotics Act

ME, OH

Specific

Note: Specific language may be completely separate from general language, listed alongside general language, or provided as one example of a situation covered by general language

Prohibits nondisclosure or withholding of information regarding other or prior treatment, visits, or prescriptions when a patient is seeking or accepting drugs from another practitioner

CT, FL, GA, HI, LA, ME, NV, NH, NY, SC, SD, TN, UT, VT, WV, WY

Lists details that must be disclosed (such as name of substance, date of prescription, amount, refills, etc.)

ME

Applies to drugs with the same or similar therapeutic use

FL, GA, SC, SD, TN, WV, WY

Establishes a specific timeframe during which the prescription was to be taken

FL, GA, LA, ME, SD, TN, WY

A violation only occurs if the total quantity of drugs prescribed exceeds what a single practitioner would prescribe for the same time period and would not be for a legitimate medical purpose

HI

 

Information communicated will not be privileged (for either general or specific laws)

 N/A

AK, AR, CO, CT, HI, ID, IN, IA, KY, ME, MD, MO, NH, OK, RI, VT, WA, WI

 

 
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