I am a medical assistant, new in the field, and while at work last week, one of the doctors I work for was in a lot of pain. He said he thought it was kidney stones. He needed some pain medication, but did not want to go to the Emergency room. There was not any pain medication in our office for him to take. He did not have his insurance card with him so he could not fill a prescription made out to him, so he wrote a prescription to me for Demoral. I went to the pharmacy across the street, filled it with my insurance card, and gave him the medication. I didn''t think this was illegal to do. I honestly didn''t think much about it at all. I just knew that he was in a lot of pain, and needed some medication. There was another more experienced medical assistant involved in this situation as well. Her part in this was going across the hall to a Primary Care Physicians office to see if they had any pain medication. They did not.
Optional Information: Nashua, New HampshireAlready Tried: I didn't get to finish my question. I accidentally sent it. We didn't realize that what we were doing was illegal, and I ended up getting fired for getting the prescription filled in my name. I did not get a verbal reprimand, or get written up first. I actually told my manager as soon as she came in that day what we did to help the doctor. She told me that we shouldn't have done what we did. The next day I was called into her office and asked more questions, the day after that I was questioned my my managers boss, a Human resources manager, and a company lawyer. I told them exactly what happened and how we were only concerned with helping the doctor. No one mentioned anything being illegal. On the following Monday, I was called into my bosses office again, and told that I was being let go. They said that what I had done was such a criminal act that, that was their only alternative was to let me go. I have been a good employee, going over and above what needed to be done. I had interned with them last year and they hired me because I was the best intern they had. I am new to the field, and had never had any ethical training except for one class in school, and nothing like this was ever discussed. I was called into the police department to tell an officer what had happened. The medial center has reported the doctor and the police have questioned me and the other medical assistant. The doctor is out of the country right now on vacation. They will be questioning him when he returns.
My question is this: Can they fire me without any warning or write up first, even though the company policy states that they will give a verbal, written and final warning before firing unless the situation is of egregious nature? My other question is about my medical insurance. Should I notify them about what I did and pay them the total amount of the medication, so I won't be accused of insurance fraud?
Today I have researched company policy and called some attorneys to get some questions answered. I left messages for them to return my call and have not received any calls back.
The physician should never have placed you in this situation, but unfortunately, the sequence of events included a number of serious breaches of medical ethics and federal/state laws.The use of your insurance benefit to obtain a prescription for someone other than you would be considered insurance Fraud.Writing a prescription for a controlled substance under these circumstances would also violate federal DEA regulations.As a somewhat skeptical individual, I would question the reason that he asked you to fill the prescription. From a medical ethics and legal perspective, it is not appropriate for an physician to prescribe themselves narcotics. This physician MAY be an individual who has a drug Abuse issue, and was trying to use your insurance to avoid detection of his own use. I find it hard to imagine that a respected physician in a community could not pay cash for an emergency prescription (or use a credit card) OR make arrangements for the pharmacy to bill him for the cost of the medication. SOMETHING is strange in this situation.
I don't know why he didn't want to go to the emergency room. My question is: should I have been given a warning? Are they justified in just firing me, when I honestly did not know that what I was doing was wrong? They have also given the other medical assistant a "final" warning with no verbal or written warning. She can be fired for any little thing at this point. Is there anything I can do? Do you think I should let the insurance company know what happened.....after all the police already know???
I'm sorry, I answered your question before you added the additional information. I'm sorry to hear that you were fired for this, but the employer may legally fire you for this particular incident. At this point, I would NOT advise you to contact the insurance company yourself, as this may cause you further problems.I suspect that the other medical assistant was not fired since her involement did not include any specific illegal act (she did not actually get any controlled substances)If there is any chance that you may be charged with any crime, you should contact an attorney now, before charges are actually filed.
MBA, Physician, MRO, Consulting & teaching in business and HR management issues
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