How These Doctors Were Caught Defrauding Patients
Reporting misconduct in your workplace can be a daunting task. Some people may be afraid that, by whistleblowing, people will view them negatively. It also takes an immense amount of courage to point out something that you think your employer or coworkers might be doing wrong. But, bringing attention to misconduct can be beneficial.
One common case of misconduct that whistleblowers report is drug kickbacks to doctors.
Doctors receive a lot of money for prescribing patients certain medicines. Kickbacks are when doctors receive monetary incentives for prescribing certain medications.
Sarah from The Healthy Home Economist says “the practice of drug kickbacks to doctors is a big reason for the ever increasing prices of drugs and the huge problem of drug affordability.”1
It is important to note that it is illegal for pharmaceutical companies to give doctors kickbacks for prescribing certain drugs, but it is not illegal for those companies to give doctors money to help promote certain drugs.2
Why are drug kickbacks bad?
In addition to their contribution to increasing drug prices, Sarah says that kickbacks also put patients and families at risk. “Not only is this practice of drug kickbacks extremely unethical, it is a danger to your health and the health of your loved ones, particularly if they are in the hospital and vulnerable to exploitation due to serious illness.”1
Patients trust their doctors to make the right decisions for them, especially when it comes to their prescriptions. Kickbacks take advantage of such trust.
The scope of drug kickbacks.
The scary fact is that drug kickbacks are pretty prominent. According to ProPublica, $3.49 billion has been disclosed in payments to over 650,000 doctors.3
According to a ProPublica analysis, “doctors who receive payments from the medical industry do indeed tend to prescribe drugs differently than their colleagues who don’t. And the more money they receive, on average, the more brand-name medications they prescribe.”
How can you tell if a doctor is receiving drug kickbacks?
Because of a section in the Affordable Care Act, pharmaceutical companies now have to disclose their payments to physicians.6
While this is helpful, it is still not fully transparent. If you suspect that a doctor is receiving kickbacks, we suggest looking up it up to verify. If they are, you may need to do some further digging to see what they are receiving money for.
If you suspect one of the doctors you work with, or even your own doctor, is receiving kickbacks for prescribing certain brand name drugs, it doesn’t hurt to look them up. You can do this on ProPublica or OpenPaymentsData website.
Where You Can Find Out More?
If you are aware of potential illegal activity or health care fraud, we recommend speaking with a whistleblower advocate. This is a person who has been through the process of personally “blowing the whistle” and can share their experience with you, while providing some assistance as to where to go next to get help.
To determine if there is potential fraudulent activity in your workplace, visit WhistleblowerJustice.net and complete the form to have a whistleblower advocate discuss what you know privately. Your conversation is 100% confidential.