Fraud of any flavor is to be decried, but somehow it bothers us just that much more when the perpetrator is a physician. Call us sentimentalists, but we like to think of the Hippocratic oath as more than just a quaint mythic tradition. You know, the "do no harm" thing. But with the proliferation of prescription pain pill abuse, addiction, and deaths, it's inevitable that some physicians are involved. We happened to spy a recent news story about the bust of a California pill mill.
Police had complaints that Dr. Rolando Lodevico Atiga of Glendora was essentially selling prescriptions for strong painkillers, such as oxycodone and Vicodin. Atiga was already on probation from prior charges related to fraudulent activity. Undercover agents went to obtain proof by trying to obtain fraudulent prescriptions. At one point, Atiga asked the officer for proof that she suffered from pain. How conscientious!
"This undercover officer obtained X-rays of her dog, brought these X-rays into the office, showed the doctor," Staab said. "He looked at these X-rays, immediately said that pain medicine for her would be warranted and for $400 immediately issued a prescription for hydrocodone. Either Sparky the dog really, really badly needs Percocet or this doctor is a petty drug dealer masquerading as a physician," Staab said."
Now the dog x-ray angle of this story is pretty humorous, but there is nothing whatsoever that is funny about the underlying issue. Propelled by an increase in prescription narcotic overdoses, drug deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in U.S.. When you think about druglords and pushers, doctors are probably not the image that comes to mind ... but as the prescription drug problem worsens, that may change.