Unlawful Practice of Medicine (Part 5)

by | May 8, 2020 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

The Appellate Division continued in relevant part: In addition to his own testimony, Brockriede presented the statements of eighteen patients, K.M., P.S., P.J., M.M., A.L., N.H., B.H., J.M., S.Q., A.M., B.S., J.B., E.U., M.H., P.A., D.H., D.D., and C.M., to the grand jury. The State also presented text messages between Campione and his wife and other circumstantial evidence. Notably, the State did not present any expert witnesses or expert reports addressing the lack of medical necessity of the CDS prescriptions to the grand jury. To be sure, many of the patients’ statements described underlying medical conditions causing them to suffer from chronic pain. In several instances, Campione prescribed medications that had been previously prescribed to them by former physicians.

The bulk of the statements presented to the grand jury focused on the location of the examinations, payment for services in cash, the cursory nature of the examinations, the amount Campione charged, and whether the patient was housebound or otherwise prevented from traveling to a medical office. We do not view such facts as evidence that the prescriptions were not medically necessary and, therefore, constituted illegal distribution of CDS within the meaning of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5.

Many of the patients were seen by Campione in their homes, nearby locations, or in his personal vehicle. House calls are an appropriate “medical care setting” within the meaning of N.J.S.A.  45:9-27.15(a). Similarly, examining patients and prescribing them medication at nearby locations would not provide a basis for criminal prosecution as opposed to potential disciplinary action by the Board. And, as noted by amicus curiae Attorney General of New Jersey, “the statute does not expressly prohibit a personal vehicle from being a ‘medical care setting.'” It depends on the circumstances.

The aforementioned testimony highlights how prosecutors obtain indictments and convictions by unduly prejudicing defendants as opposed to applying the alleged facts to the law. Your average lay person would find it strange to dispense medication outside of a medical office or house visit. The natural tendency is to associate illicit drug distributions with cash transactions occurring out of an automobile and/or at a public venue. That would lead your average layperson to presume this case must have involved an illicit distribution. As we see, the nuanced laws demonstrate otherwise.