Let Doctors be Doctors

Associated Press reports that a Kansas pain doctor was convicted and may face 20 years to life in prison for “conspiracy.” The prosecution alleged that the doctor stood to profit from prescribing medications to dozens of patients who later died.

Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife, Linda, were charged in a 34-count indictment with unlawful dispensing of drugs, health care fraud and money laundering. Jurors convicted them of a moneymaking conspiracy that prosecutors linked to 68 overdose deaths. They were directly charged in 21 of the deaths.

During their eight-week trial, prosecutors told jurors the Schneiders defrauded insurers and patients by carelessly writing prescriptions for potent, addictive painkillers to people with severe pain but also to drug abusers who feigned symptoms.

“Feigned symptoms”? Call me crazy, but this kinda seems akin to arresting a gun salesman for “conspiracy” because he sold guns to adults who later shot themselves. Not even! The doctor wasn’t even selling the stuff!

Maybe I’m overstepping my boundary of knowledge here, but the dude is a pain doctor. There’s really no way of him knowing that a patient complaining of pain is lying.

What if he were to say “sorry, I don’t believe you,” and send them off in pain? A doctor trusting his patients is not a criminal.

Jacob Sullum puts it nicely:

I have not examined the evidence in the case, so I cannot say to what extent Schneider was duped by patients or whether he was negligent. But judging from the press coverage, the case looks much like others in which conscientious doctors have been treated like criminals because they put the interests of their patients ahead of their role as conscripted soldiers in the war on drugs.

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