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Negligence & Criminality In Florida Sober Homes


The majority of Florida sober homes are clean, well-kept facilities where someone who needs help with addiction can find a welcoming and helpful environment where they can get clean. However, the minority of sober homes that are run unethically have a way of overshadowing all the rest. Health fraud or insurance fraud cases pop up every so often, such as the recent case where a West Palm Beach man pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud after conning insurers out of around $31 million. If you are in the market for a sober home, be aware of the potential red flags you may see that should make you think twice.

Fraud Is The Most Common Problem

By far the most common behavior that an addicted patient may come across when searching for a sober home is fraud – most often, taking advantage of those seeking help by billing their insurance for tests never administered. Run-of-the-mill medical tests like urinalyses would be submitted to insurers for reimbursement, but since the tests are not administered to actual patients, no money is actually spent. Unscrupulous sober home staff then pocket the difference.

Another common fraud-related issue is known as patient brokering. Patient brokering occurs when a healthcare professional essentially refers patients to another facility or office in exchange for a fee,  “commission, benefit, bonus, […]” or anything of the kind. Florida law explicitly forbids this kind of behavior, but it still goes on, particularly when it can be camouflaged by falsifying records. If you have been aggressively ‘recruited’ or have been shunted to another office or facility without warning, you may have been the object of patient brokering or another type of fraud.

Staff Negligence Hiding Crimes

While fraud offenses tend to be criminal in nature (which means that it would be up to the State of Florida to prosecute), negligence cases crop up with regularity in sober homes, and most of the time, they have to do with the negligence or recklessness of the facility’s staff. While sober homes are not licensed medical facilities, and privacy concerns prevent the release of patient information, it can still be argued that the staff has a duty to exercise reasonable care toward the people they are allegedly helping. A failure to take appropriate care may open staff up to negligence lawsuits, particularly if someone suffers tangible, physical harm while allegedly in their care.

It may be difficult to determine whether the sober home you are investigating is legitimate or not, but in general, the more lax the ‘program’ feels, the more likely it is that the ‘sober home’ is only in business to profit off people’s addictions. Quality sober homes are serious about addiction treatment, requiring scheduled drug tests and treatment, and imposing regulations so that people in recovery have structure and routine. Failure to do so may not only be negligent; it may open staff up to accusations of crimes being perpetrated on their watch.

Contact A Tampa Sober Homes Attorney

A sober home can be a wonderful place for many to go through recovery and get clean once and for all. However, not every Florida sober home is created equal, and it may be a good idea to consult a knowledgeable Tampa treatment center negligence attorney to get a clear understanding of what a sober home can and cannot do. The Rinaldo Law Group has been handling these cases for some time, and will work hard for you. Call our office today for a free consultation.



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