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The Insider Threat: The Dentist

Posted: August 25th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Basics, Controlled Substances, Dental, In the News, Security | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

In our last installment of the Insider Threat series, we look to fellow dentists within a dental practice as a potential risk for prescription fraud. How, or better yet why, would a dentist commit such a crime if they are lawfully allowed to authorize prescriptions for their patients? With the opioid epidemic upon us, it’s an unfortunate reality that individuals dealing with a substance abuse issue will go to great lengths to obtain such substances. These drugs do not discriminate regardless of one’s socioeconomic status and sadly, that includes those whom are meant to help combat this crisis: dentists and doctors.

Dr. Joseph Gorfien, a partner at a dental practice in Florida, utilized a fellow dentist’s professional license information and paper prescription pad to forge and fill prescriptions for Oxycodone without his partner’s knowledge. Gorfien took advantage of not only his own position’s authority, but his partner’s as well.

Dr. Mark Horowitz, although being investigated for a multitude of bad behaviors, had a suspended license and decided to utilize a fellow dentist’s prescription pad to obtain 130 pills of Oxycodone for personal use. The dentist in which he stole from only worked in that particular office one day per week and left his prescription pad readily available for anyone to swipe. Horowitz forged the prescriptions as well as the other dentist’s signature.

If a dentist is not utilizing another dentist’s DEA number for their own personal or financial gain, they may be abusing the professional relationships with those that they employ. Dr. Maurice Zybler, a dentist in Massachusetts, was recently accused of fraud because he was using his employees to acquire pain medications for more than a decade. He used his ability as a dentist to prescribe pain killers for his own personal use and wrote fraudulent prescriptions in his employee’s names in which they would fill and return back to him. If they didn’t fill the prescriptions, they expected to be fired.

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While most dentists are generally aware of potential theft of DEA numbers or prescription pads from patients or staff, they may not question their equivalent peers. A recent survey conducted by Dentist’s Money Digest, further proves this state of ignorance. Nearly one in three dentists claim that they are personally aware of a dentist colleague with a painkiller problem and 65% said they see opioid abuse as a “minor” problem, while another 28% said it is a “significant, but not pressing” issue.

“However, dentists’ roles in the opioid epidemic extend beyond the prescription pad. Many dentists end up addicted themselves. Addiction can stem from stress, personal issues, or simply the access healthcare workers have to such drugs.” Dentist Money Digest

The role of dentists, or any healthcare provider for that matter, within this opioid epidemic is crucial to the success of overcoming this crisis. Not only should dentists consider establishing office policies that can prevent or mitigate the diversion of opioids, but should also partake in ongoing education initiatives regarding responsible practices for prescribing such substances. With colleagues suffering from their own substance abuse issues, assistance, respect and understanding should be of utmost priority, regardless of any role within a dental practice and especially with the perceived stigma associated with addiction.

As part of these policies, dentists should consider e-Prescribing as a beneficial tool to safeguard their prescriptions from patients, staff and fellow dentists. Since e-Prescribing requires the entry of two unique passcodes for controlled substances, it will diminish the element of risk pertaining to stolen prescription pads and DEA numbers that are left out in the open for anyone to take. Furthermore, e-Prescribing is a proven method to help curb the opioid dilemma relative to doctor shopping and places a checks and balances system on prescribing behaviors. The benefits are exceedingly visible and with 3-9% of opioid abusers using forged written prescriptions, it’s a commonsense solution.

We hope you enjoyed our Insider Threat series and that it has given you informative, yet eye-opening insight into the potential threats your dental practice may harbor. This is not to say that employees or dentists cannot be trusted, but with 58% of dentists falling victim to prescription fraud, a change must occur for the safety and wellbeing of a dental practice, as well as their patients.

Sources: University of Kentucky; Boston.com; SunSentinel; prweb; Dentist’s Money Digest

About DoseSpot

DoseSpot is a Surescripts certified e-Prescribing platform specifically designed to integrate with electronic health record, electronic dental record, practice management and telehealth software. DoseSpot is certified to e-Prescribe controlled substances and has provided simple, affordable and integratable e-Prescribing solutions to healthcare IT companies since 2009. For more information, please visit http://www.DoseSpot.com

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