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Patient Brokering In Substance Abuse Rehab Centers


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 92,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2020, which is a 30 percent increase from 2019. The number of preventable deaths each year continues to climb, but if someone with a drug or alcohol addiction can get into a rehabilitation center, their prospects drastically improve. Florida law takes this into account when regulating the behavior of center personnel, and it is one of the reasons why actions like patient brokering are regulated so harshly. Patients who are ‘brokered’ can experience relapse and other effects detrimental to any attempt at getting clean.

What Is Patient Brokering? 

Decades ago, when Florida had a reputation for “pill mills,” the practice of patient brokering became commonplace as a way to make more money off each patient. Third parties referred to as patient brokers would find patients with good insurance and send them to partner facilities, where their insurance would be charged for superfluous tests and “treatments” that often had no effect whatsoever on the patient’s addiction. The broker would collect a ‘finder’s fee’ or other type of kickback, incentivizing the process to continue.

The state legislature banned the practice in 1995, with the law effectively mirroring the federal anti-kickback statute – though that does mean that exemptions for certain behaviors do exist. Any “discount … or payment practice not prohibited” by the federal law is considered acceptable under Florida law. Still, this does not mean Florida’s statute is not enforceable. Unethical rehabilitation centers prey on vulnerable families, and a failure to administer treatment as mandated by the standard duty of care is actionable.

Be On The Lookout 

If you are in the market for a rehabilitation center for yourself or a loved one, it is crucial to keep an eye out for any red flags that might signify patient brokering is occurring. For example, most legitimate rehab centers do not offer discounts or incentives to get people in the door; they rely on the quality of their service and their track record of success. This is also true of sober homes, which can act as halfway houses for those who are in treatment or have completed it.

If you believe that you have been the victim of patient brokering, know that you have the ability to file suit over what you have been through. Patient brokering is a crime, usually a felony – but regardless of whether criminal charges result in jail time, you do have the right to file a civil lawsuit after a criminal trial’s conclusion. This does not count as double jeopardy (being tried for the same offense twice) because the criminal and civil court systems are different.

Contact A Tampa Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Center Negligence Attorney

People in the midst of addiction need knowledgeable medical care and a place to rest while they focus on getting clean. Patient brokering shuttles vulnerable people from place to place, essentially selling them to the highest bidder. If you suspect that you or a loved one has been a victim of patient brokering, a Tampa treatment center negligence attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can help you determine your options going forward. Call our office today for a free consultation.



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