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Saturday, July 28th 2012

Doctor As Drug Trafficker

Being a physician who focuses solely on pain is a dangerous occupation apparently just see here or here or any other examples.

‘Pill mills’ are a real problem (and not just in Florida) which routinely make the news. So the following story is remarkable only in the example of brazenness that actually got reported.

The deputy…showed ["Dr."] Atiga the dog X-ray [and] told the doctor she was in a car accident several weeks before her visit and needed “something way stronger” than the Tylenol she claimed to be taking, according to an audio recording of the visit reviewed by The Times.

The doctor asked few questions before listing the drugs he could prescribe.

“Do you want to try Vicodin ES?” he asked. “Or do you want to try others? … Roxicodone? Or oxycodone? … Or whatever you want….Maybe some Valium or Xanax.”

The deputy chose Roxicodone and pulled out two X-rays of the dog. Atiga examined them and referred to specific bones, explaining what they were to the agent, according to the recording.

“That’s the hip joint right there,” the doctor said, apparently indicating one of the dog’s bones.

Glendora police had received complaints “that for the right amount of cash” the doctor would “write prescriptions for you” and pocket the cash, Police Capt. Timothy Staab said.

“He was well-known among drug addicts and prescription medication addicts,” Staab said. “He was the doctor to go to.”

The doctor is believed to have asked patients, who paid hundreds of dollars for prescriptions, to give his receptionist a $50 tip “for her time and troubles,” Staab said.

Atiga has a prior felony conviction for taking illegal kickbacks in return for referring Medicare patients for home health services, according to state medical board records.

Indeed, the x-ray above is one of the images the undercover deputy showed the physician.

This kind’ve activity is apparently far too common and a real stain on the physician as a brand. I know there are times when there is reasonable disagreement about the appropriateness of certain actions by doctors, especially as it relates to prescribing opiates and other higher class pharmaceuticals; cases where aggressive government action is worthy of criticism. But cases such as the one above, so blatant are real problems and need to be routed out and dealt with.