October 4, 2019

Around the nation: Doctor gets 40 years in prison for prescribing 500K+ opioid doses

Daily Briefing

    Joel Smithers, a family practice doctor who operated in Martinsville, Virginia, on Wednesday received a 40-year prison sentence after he was convicted of 861 federal drug charges, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from Maryland, New Hampshire, and Virginia.

    • Maryland: The state's Hospital Patient's Bill of Rights went into effect on Oct. 1. The law, which was passed unanimously in the Maryland General Assembly, requires that all hospital patients be provided a list of their 24 legal rights, and that the rights be prominently posted. One of the rights is that patients "receive information about hospital and physician charges and ask for an estimate of hospital charges before care is provided, as long as your care is not impeded" (Gooch, Becker's Hospital CFO Report, 10/1).

    • New Hampshire: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health and GraniteOne Health announced Wednesday that they have signed an agreement to merge and form Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health GraniteOne. The news follows months of talks on the subject. The agreement is subject to approval by the state Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Unit and federal regulators (Doyle-Burr, Valley News, 10/2; Moon, NHPR, 10/2; Dartmouth Hitchcock release, 1/24; Saari, Monadock-Ledger Transcript, 10/2).

    • Virginia: Joel Smithers, a family practice doctor who ran a "pill mill" in Martinsville, Virginia, on Wednesday received a 40-year prison sentence after he was convicted of 861 federal drug charges. The sentence includes 20 years for a conviction that Smithers prescribed the opioids that led to the death of a West Virginia woman. Smithers illegally prescribed over half a million doses of oxycodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl, and other opioids (Booker, NPR, 10/2; Hassan, New York Times, 10/2).
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