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'Pill mill' doctors charged with racketeering, murder

A fatal combination of medications can be the result of negligent actions by a doctor or other medical professional in Ohio and across the country. Recent federal and state indictments prove their actions could also be criminal. Florida recently took action against what it terms "pill mills" by charging four pain clinics as organized crime enterprises. Officials say their medical practices resulted in a fatal overdose. The arrests were made as a culmination of a three-year investigation dubbed Operation Oxy Alley. Federal indictments were returned on racketeering charges against 32 people for their participation in a pill mill business that dispensed more than 20 million Oxycodone pills, generating an income of over $40 million.

In addition to the federal indictments, state authorities filed first-degree murder charges against a clinic doctor for the death of a 24-year-old man who died within hours of filling painkiller and anti-anxiety prescriptions. The \doctor is said to have issued prescriptions for more than 300,000 Oxycodone pills in an 18-month period ending in June of 2010. Also charged with murder were the clinic owner and an office manager who was instructed to make sure the doctors "keep the patients happy."

The government also seized more than $4.7 million in cash belonging to twin brothers who purportedly ran the illegal pill mill operations, authorities said. They allegedly hid the money in the attic of their mother's home. The federal indictment seeks forfeiture of an additional $40 million. Authorities said the brothers ran four pain management clinics that offered prescriptions to patients without a medical need from states such as Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

The records of Florida's Medical Examiners Commission states that Oxycodone was listed as the cause of death for 2,710 people in 2010, a 28 percent increase from the year before. Indications are that approximately 85 percent of all Oxycodone sold nationally comes from Florida.

Regardless of the outcome of the federal and state criminal matters, victims of such seemingly wanton and reckless behavior may be entitled to recover monetary damages for injuries suffered as a result of medication error, including any fatal combination of medications. In Ohio, attorneys experienced in prosecuting medical malpractice lawsuits alleging negligence and gross negligence may help victims receive remuneration for wrongful conduct.

Source: The Bellingham Herald, "Pill mill investigators charge 13 doctors with racketeering, 1 with murder," Audra D.S. Burch And Scott Hiaasen, Aug 23, 2011

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