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      A Press Release on Opioids - Record Number of New Jersey Doctors Disciplined in 2016 As State Ramps up Efforts to Curb Opioid Addiction

      Eugen G Tarnow  March 21 2017 10:28:23 AM
      By Eugen Tarnow, Ph.D.
      Avalon Business Systems, Inc.
      http://AvalonAnalytics.com

      The New Jersey Department of the Attorney General issued a press release earlier this month about 31 medical doctors disciplined for opioid issues (you have to ask for the actual 31 names, they are not in the press release but you can find them on the bottom of this blog). It states "Purging the medical community of over-prescribers is as important to our cause as busting heroin rings and locking up drug kingpins.”

      Well, if that is the case, few kingpins would be locked up and then for only a short time.

      All but 5 of the doctors had prescribed opioids within Medicare.  The average number of Medicare prescriptions for these doctors were 650 per year.  327 NJ doctors had prescribed more than that within Medicare which suggests a conviction rate of 10%.

      The majority of opioid sanctions were temporary: 61%.

      The doctors sanctioned for opioids have somewhat more sanctions than the average sanctioned doctor (1.9 versus 1.5).  One doctor had 8 sanctions altogether - 7 previous sanctions.

      That the state is indeed ramping up its efforts is shown by a graph of the number of doctors sanctioned by month covered by the press release - it is increasing:
      Image:A Press Release on Opioids - Record Number of New Jersey Doctors Disciplined in 2016 As State Ramps up Efforts to Curb Opioid Addiction

      However, the total number of sanctions by the medical board is the same over the last ten years, about 114 (which probably works out to about 0.4% of all active physicians in NJ):
      Image:A Press Release on Opioids - Record Number of New Jersey Doctors Disciplined in 2016 As State Ramps up Efforts to Curb Opioid Addiction

      There were also personal tragedies among the doctors - at least one had a child who overdosed on the doctor's opioid pills.

      Here is an interesting question: will anybody sue these 31 doctors and be able to collect from their malpractice insurance?  Will the insurance companies then represent these doctors?

      Many of the doctors had multiple versions of their names, one even had the first and last names switched in the different data sets.  Furthermore, not all sanctions could be found on the website of the State Board of the Medical Examiners (http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/bme/Pages/actions.aspx). One wonders whether data quality issues make it harder to catch perpetrators.

      Final 2016 CDS Case List.docx
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