Thursday, August 24, 2006
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of a Virginia pain doctor for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance this week. Dr. William E. Hurwitz was tried on 62 counts under a federal crackdown on illegal distribution of prescription painkillers. The Court ordered a new trial because they said the jury should have been permitted to consider Dr. Hurwitz's defense that he prescribed the pain medications in good faith.
Conviction Of McLean Pain Doctor Overturned
Appeals Court Says Judge Erred in Jury Instructions
Pain patients often struggle to find adequate treatment because there is a distinct fear out there that doctors will face stiff consequences unless they are very calculating in their decisions to prescribe pain medication. This holding is important because although Dr. Hurwitz arguably used poor discretion in his decision to prescribe the quantities of painkillers he did, the Court made it clear that the Justice Department will not be able to treat doctors who act in good faith as run of the mill drug dealers.
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