• Ronald Chapman, LL.M.

Pain Patients: Know Your Rights Amid the Opioid Crackdown


  • Has your provider been raided by the DEA or FBI?

  • Have you struggled to obtain your medical record and obtain a new healthcare provider?

  • Have clinics refused to treat you because you were previously treated by a physician's office that has been raided?


If any of these questions apply to you, it is imperative that you know your rights as a patient so that you can seek treatment without suffering. Here are answers to some of your most burning questions:

For regular healthcare defense updates follow "the Healthcare Defendant" on Twitter @healthcaredef

1. WHO OWNS YOUR MEDICAL RECORD?


Your medical record is actually the property of the physician who created it and the facility in which the record was created but the information that is gathered and placed within the medical record is your property. As such, you have a right to copy the medical record and obtain the information located within the record but cannot demand possession of the original medical record.


2. CAN THE DEA REFUSE TO GIVE ME MY MEDICAL RECORD BACK?


The DEA can refuse to provide you the physical copy of your medical record but may not refuse to permit you to receive a copy of your medical record. If the DEA refuses to permit you the ability to obtain access to your record, you should consult with an attorney to obtain your medical record.


3. DO I NEED TO PROVIDE A STATEMENT TO THE DEA OR FEDERAL INVESTIGATORS?


No, you do not need to talk to the DEA or other federal investigators - you have the freedom to choose. The only way law enforcement can compel you to make a statement is by using a subpoena to testify at a grand jury, trial or civil deposition. Law enforcement are not empowered to require you to make a statement during a raid or any "voluntary interview". If the DEA threatens you with charges in order to coerce your cooperation, you should seek counsel prior to talking to law enforcement.


4. OTHER DOCTORS ARE REFUSING TO TREAT ME WHAT CAN I DO?


If your provider has been raided by the DEA or is facing charges, chances are other healthcare providers are going to be weary of treating you and prescribing you opioid pain medications. The DEA and DOJ heavily publicize charges and raids of physicians in order to perpetuate this stigma. Many other providers may assume you are an illegitimate patient or that your pain is not real. You should get a referral from pain management from your primary care physician or family physician. If you don't have one, seek on a new primary care physician and request a physical or checkup. During that visit discuss your issues and medical history with that physician. This physician can and should write you a referral for a pain management physician. Remember, failure to properly diagnose and treat or refer a patient for higher care is malpractice. If this fails, try university hospitals and larger medical institutions. These institutions have better compliance programs and are less likely to discriminate against a patient.


5. WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I CANT FIND TREATMENT AND I'M SUFFERING?


This is the sad and unfortunate consequence brought about by indiscriminate DEA search warrants and raids and people are dying. Legitimate pain patients receiving opioids have been caught in the middle of the opioid epidemic and are suffering. Many patients turn to street drugs or drug diversion to treat their legitimate pain because they have no other option. If you have been unfairly refused treatment, communicate with patient advocates such as Don't Punish Pain and try to find assistance. Seek out the assistance of local resources such as patient advocates and counselors. As a last resort, consider seeking the assistance of an addiction treatment provider to help you safely withdrawal from opioids without turning to dangerous street drugs or risking overdose. DO NOT turn to street drugs, it is dangerous and will ruin your chance of obtaining legitimate treatment by stigmatizing you as a patient.


For regular healthcare defense updates follow "the Healthcare Defendant" on Twitter @healthcaredef

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