The dangers of "doctor shopping"

By: Nicolette Schleisman Email
By: Nicolette Schleisman Email

GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- Across the country a growning number of people are "shopping" around for different doctors to prescribe pain killers.

Nicolette Schleisman looked into the problem and found it's going on right here in Texoma.

She spoke with one Texoma man, who wished to remain anonymous, who says his mother was doctor shopping. And now, as a result of years of prescription abuse is dying.

He shared with us documents he got from a concerned citizen, showing the amount of her abuse this year alone.

"Begging. Please. Don't fill anymore prescriptions for her, you're killing my mother. The pharmacies, everything. Please please please please I've spent countless hours. And still nothing," said John Smith.

John Smith does not want to be identified, so we have changed his voice. His 60-year-old mother is currently in the hospital suffering from renal failure, which he says is a direct relation to her prescription drug abuse.

"I did some research and found out she had been doctor shopping with the hydrocodone and purchasing it and changing her last name up, addresses. Anything to get the script filled," said Smith.

Smith says his mother has taken more than 4,000 hydrocodone pills in the past year alone. And that's only from the information he can get from Texas.

She also was shopping around in Oklahoma.

"She's flagged in our system. She's flagged in our system. I've heard that from every pharmacy. Every physician and she's still receiving the prescription. So like I say, it's a money game. And she has went through everything. She literally has nothing left. Hundreds of thousands of dollars she has spent on this addiction.. Legal addiction," said Smith.

Doctor Sree Vattam says the phenomenon called "doctor shopping" happens to about 10% of the nation's patients.

Vattam says he even sees shoppers come in to his own practice.

"Usually we find them. We monitor them with our monitoring program. And also we monitor them with urine drug screens. Whenever they come. We do routine drug screens and also we do a prescription pill count. How many they are using," said Dr. Vattam.

But Smith says even with these precautions in place, his mother was able to get her hands on the pills.

"So all this is cash based. So you can see in the report that obviously some physicians are more interested in money than patients well being," said Smith.


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