TALLAHASSEE, Fla., June 29 -- The Florida Department of Health issued the following news release:
State Surgeon General Dr. John H. Armstrong today announced a reduction by more than half in the number of pain management clinics in Florida. The results are striking. In total, the number of pain management clinics has been reduced from 921, as of June 30, 2010, to 444, as of June 25, 2012. Although many pain clinics are legitimate health care entities, many were merely fronts or "pill mills", for illicit prescribing and dispensing of powerful, addictive controlled substances. A number of pieces of significant legislation since 2009, including passage of HB 7095 by the 2011 Florida Legislature, have provided critical tools the Department in the fight to protect Floridians from the scourge of pill mills. The Department has been vigilant through its Division of Medical Quality (MQA) Assurance enforcement program to insure that the Legislature's directives are being met.
"The significant drop in the number of pain management clinics in Florida is a testament to the Department's commitment to fighting prescription drug abuse and the unscrupulous activities of unlawful pain management clinics", said Dr. General John H. Armstrong. "We remain vigilant in using the appropriate disciplinary tools to protect our citizens from pharmacies, pain management clinics, and practitioners who do not follow the law. Together we will win this war, ultimately save lives and continue to ensure that Florida remains a safe place to live, work and play."
For the remaining registered pain management clinics, all but 77 have gone through comprehensive inspections by MQA. The inspections include verifying the designated physician is practicing at the clinic, reviewing medical records to insure they are complete and have an individualized treatment plan, patient is examined by the physician on the date the controlled substances are prescribed and the patient is assessed and referred, as needed, for addiction. The 77 remaining clinics are new and currently going through the inspection process. The designated physicians report quarterly to the Department with information on new and repeat patients, the number of patients discharged due to drug diversion or abuse and the number of out-of-state patients.
According to Division of Medical Quality Assurance Director, Lucy Gee, "A strategic enforcement priority for the coming year is to watch where the illicit prescription drug market is shifting. We are closely monitoring the number of new community pharmacy applications; inspecting them to be sure they are not fronts for fraudulent activities. We are also using the tools we asked for and that the Legislature granted us to inspect, investigate and prosecute violators of pain management laws."
To learn more, please visit the Department of Health's Medical Quality Assurance's website. To view the most recent ESOs, EROs, Final Orders and Administrative Complaints, please visit the DOH Online Newsroom. For other information about enforcement terms or definitions, boards and councils, or the heath care practitioner licensing process itself, visit the Health Care Licensure Verification Website
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