DEA Guidelines to Prescription Fraud

Posted in Latest News on June 12, 2013.

In addition, individuals may go to emergency rooms complaining of pain in the hopes of receiving a controlled substance prescription. The prescription can then be altered or copied to be used again. Computers are often used to create prescriptions for nonexistent doctors or to copy legitimate doctors’ prescriptions. The quantity of drugs prescribed and frequency of prescriptions filled are not lone indications of fraud or improper prescribing, especially if a patient is being treated with opioids for pain management. Pharmacists should also recognize that drug tolerance and physical dependence may develop as a consequence of a patient’s sustained use of opioid analgesics for the legitimate treatment of chronic pain.

The following criteria may indicate that a prescription was not issued for a legitimate medical purpose:

  • The prescriber writes significantly more prescriptions (or in larger quantities) compared to other practitioners in the area.
  • The patient appears to be returning too frequently. A prescription which should last for a month in legitimate use is being refilled on a biweekly, weekly or even a daily basis.
  • The prescriber writes prescriptions for antagonistic drugs, such as depressants and stimulants, at the same time. Drug abusers often request prescriptions for “uppers and downers” at the same time.
  • The patient presents prescriptions written in the names of other people.
  • A number of people appear simultaneously, or within a short time, all bearing similar prescriptions from the same physician.
  • People who are not regular patrons or residents of the community, show up with prescriptions from the same physician.

The following criteria may indicate a forged prescription:

  • Prescription looks “too good”. The prescriber’s handwriting is too legible.
  • Quantities, directions, or dosages differ from usual medical usage.
  • Prescription does not comply with the acceptable standard abbreviations or appears to be textbook presentations.
  • Prescription appears to be photocopied.
  • Directions are written in full with no abbreviations.
  • Prescription is written in different color inks or written in different handwriting.

Prevention Techniques

  • Know the prescriber and his/her signature.
  • Know the prescriber’s DEA registration number.
  • Know the patient.
  • Check the date on the prescription order to determine if it has been presented in a reasonable length of time since being issued by the prescriber.


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