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Florida regs to counter "pill mills"
A Florida woman was awarded $36 million by a jury in May after a pain management physician allegedly botched a steroid injection damaging the woman's spinal cord. Following a car accident, the woman sought treatment from the physician. To treat the woman, the physician penetrated her spinal cord with an epidural and injected an anesthetic and a steroid.
The woman's spinal cord sustained tissue damage, and she became partially paralyzed. Once the woman arrived at the hospital, doctors discovered that the steroids had destroyed tissue in her spinal cord. The physician was not present at the trial as he is in the midst of serving a 12-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to four counts of illegally distributing oxycodone. His state medical license has been revoked.
In early June, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed legislation affecting the operation of pain clinics in Florida, which will become effective in October 2010.
Specifically, the new law requires every clinic to register, be inspected annually, and name a doctor with a clean record as the clinic's director. The state will have the ability to revoke a clinic's registration and close it without prior notice for violations. Owners and doctors can be charged with third-degree felonies and fined up to $5,000 per day of violations. Among other measures, clinics will be limited to selling a cash-paying patient only three days of pills at a time, and the state will set a maximum number of prescriptions that can be issued in a day. The regs represent a first step in a battle against an increase in prescription drug overdoses and the ongoing illegal operation of "pill mills."