As a medical provider, it is your job to do what is best for your patients. You do not harm whenever possible, and you want to make sure they’re healthy.
When you saw a patient who was deeply addicted to opioids, you suggested to them that they may want to get help from a treatment facility. On your own, you couldn’t monitor them through detox the way that they’d need to be monitored for their safety. You gave them information about local clinics as well as hospital outpatient programs. They went away with more guidance, and you felt like you did your job.
Unfortunately, you later found that the patient accused you of brokering them. They claimed you’d referred them to a program that they didn’t agree with and that they thought you were paid for it. This is a serious accusation, and although false, could lead to significant consequences.
What is patient brokering, really?
Patient brokering involves three parties. The first is the rehab clinic. The second is a medical provider that they hire to bring in patients. That provider would typically refer patients only to the specific clinic, even if that clinic wasn’t the right one to help them. The third party is the patient who, in many cases, suffers as a result of not really getting the right treatment. Instead, they end up going to a facility that may not have their best interests at heart or that may not be prepared to work with them.
At the core, this arrangement is designed to financially benefit the broker and rehab clinic rather than the patient who needs help and support.
What can you do if you’re accused of patient brokering?
It may be easy for you to show that you’re not a patient broker, so your attorney will help you build your defense. For example, you’ll be able to put together proof that you’ve never met those at the facility or that you gave multiple brochures or facility names to the patient. You may also show that you didn’t receive payment for any referral, which would show that your guidance was not done in exchange for cash or other benefits.
Your attorney will help you show that you intended to help, not hurt, your patient and prove that their dissatisfaction with a service came down to the choices they made when selecting a program.