US waging war on doctors with prosecutorial tricks – says journal

Under the U.S. Constitution, the federal government has jurisdiction over only three crimes: treason, counterfeiting, and piracy, writes Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) General Counsel Andrew Schlafly in the summer issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. “The Founders would be shocked at the degree to which the federal government is pursuing prosecutions of physicians and others, and the tactics employed to attain convictions.”

The federal court system lacks the checks and balances that exist in the state systems, and federal prosecutors command almost unlimited resources. Unlike in state courts, where there is a reasonable chance of acquittal, federal courts acquit on all counts in less than one percent of cases that are prosecuted. Conviction on only one of dozens or hundreds of counts that prosecutors pile on results in the same sentence—often decades in prison. That is why most defendants plead guilty to get a much shorter sentence, even if they are innocent. And not a few commit suicide, Schlafly writes.

Tricks that prosecutors use include statements designed to inflame or manipulate an average person, Schlafly notes. For example, as in a recent case of Dr. Eugene Gosy, a prominent pain-management specialist in New York, they may tell the public about the doctor’s expensive cars, or trips abroad, or colleagues that pleaded guilty. They emphasize the total amount of alleged false claims, without mentioning that these may have constituted less than 1 percent of billings submitted over 5 years.

Prosecutors grab more headlines by bringing down a respected member of the community than by prosecuting real criminals, Schlafly states.

Prosecutors have no accountability for the devastating effect on the community when its “number 1 prescriber” can no longer treat patients. The indictment of Dr. Gosy stranded 8,000 to 10,000 patients in urgent need of pain medication, causing what county health commissioner Gale R. Burstein called “a public health crisis.” Schlafly observed that “other physicians are obviously terrified to treat [these patients] with the threat of decades in prison hanging over them if they do.”

“What isn’t grabbing headlines are the doctors who quietly stop prescribing pain medicine or stop treating government-insured patients, as the rules for prescribing and billing become ever more complicated, and the penalties ever more draconian,” comments AAPS executive director Jane Orient, M.D. “Those who remain in practice need to become more aware of prosecutorial traps.”

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943. – USNewswire

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