Patient brokering is illegal. It happens when a medical provider trades their client to a drug or alcohol addiction program for money (also known as a kickback). Patient brokering isn’t legal, because it profits on the trust of families and patients in crisis. It is unfair and unethical.
Patient brokers may seem like positive supports to some. They might offer to pay for travel expenses or seem to “do the legwork” to get a client into a substance abuse treatment program. However, it is illegal in Florida to refer patients to addiction treatment programs, because abuse clinics are not allowed to solicit patients.
What do you do if you’re accused of patient brokering but were not attempting to do so?
There is a difference between a provider who tells a patient to seek care or who gives them a list of potential options locally to get in touch with compared to one that calls in a referral to a specific clinic. Additionally, if you have not received any compensation for the referral or you genuinely were suggesting multiple local clinics just because they were available, then it’s unlikely that you would be convicted of patient brokering.
Patient brokering doesn’t necessarily focus on a patient’s needs. It’s more about the drug treatment program and the doctor making money. It is also more likely to take place in AA meetings, rehabilitation facilities or detox clinics, because those are places where drugs are more likely to be used.
Any reputable treatment center will take the time to screen potential patients and make sure they fit well with their program. They should also offer reputable treatment options.
What do you do after you’re accused?
If you have been accused of patient brokering, you need to build a defense. This kind of accusation could go to the medical board and affect your license to practice medicine. It is unfair for you to face that kind of situation if you were not involved in brokering, so your attorney will take steps to help you protect your reputation and goals as a physician. Failing to defend yourself could result in a criminal conviction that threatens your career.