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Drug Rehab Facilities Often Exploit Their Patients


A Lake City woman was recently convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud for running an insurance scheme out of the drug rehab facilities she owned and operated. The woman allegedly “lured” well-off patients to stay at her sober homes, and then subjected them to medically unnecessary tests, in turn making fraudulent claims to their insurers. She and her confederates made claims up to $58 million, receiving about $20 million in payment. Unfortunately, this sort of scheme is more common than it used to be, and if you are a patient who gets taken advantage of, it can feel as though you have nowhere to turn. Finding an experienced attorney may help the situation.

How Does It Happen?

Florida has become a mecca of sorts for people seeking addiction treatment – many who can afford it choose to attend rehab programs away from home, and Florida’s lovely weather is sometimes a perk that gets people in the proverbial door. However, the state’s regulation of sober homes and rehabilitation facilities is not, perhaps, as strict as a patient would like it to be. For months and years, facility operators were able to put patients through what is colloquially known as the “Florida shuffle” – luring patients to Florida with promises of help for addiction, promising the ‘best’ facilities, but in reality, placing them wherever the ‘broker’ can get the highest kickback.

Stories of addicted patients who were not only not helped, but were actively traumatized, are all too common. Patients would come to treatment facilities seeking help, only to find continued drug use, dangerous staff or other clientele, and more. In the last couple of years, Florida has cracked down on so-called patient brokering (luring clients to dubious facilities solely for profit), amending the state’s Patient Brokering Act (PBA) to clarify some language and explicitly prohibit certain kinds of activity. This does not stop many facility owners, but it does give patients a possible method to seek redress.

What Can I Do?

If you believe that you have been the victim of fraud on the part of a drug rehab or sober home facility, you have several possible options to try and get some closure, depending on your specific situation. For example, drug rehab facilities in Florida must be licensed unless they qualify for an exemption, and they must also meet specialized standards in order to be accredited. Sober homes are less regulated due to privacy concerns (patient names would be at risk of exposure), but rehab facilities must be up to code, or there may be grounds for suit either based on those violations, or based on ordinary negligence.

A claim of ordinary negligence might sound easier to mount against a facility, but in some cases it may not be the best option. Filing suit against an allegedly negligent rehab facility involves establishing that the facility (or certain staff members of a facility) failed to exercise the appropriate level of care for patients, and because of that lack of care, you suffered harm. Sometimes this is possible, but given how underregulated these businesses are, it is not always tenable to try and get the evidence you need. Every case is different, and contacting an experienced attorney can help you better understand yours.

Contact A Tampa Rehab & Sober Home Negligence Attorney

When someone makes the difficult decision to try and seek treatment for addiction, they deserve to be given the help they are looking for. If you have tried to get help, only to be faced with the “Florida shuffle,” contacting a Tampa substance abuse & treatment center negligence attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group may be the compassionate help you need in order to get some closure on your situation. We are ready and willing to try and assist you. Call our office today for a free consultation.



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