Contact: Kathryn Serkes 202.333.3855
January 29, 2004
DOCTORS REPOND TO PLEA DEAL OF TUCSON PAIN SPECIALIST
Tucson, AZ -- In response to the hearing on the plea negotiation in the case of the U.S. v. Jeri Hassman, M.D., a Tucson pain management specialist, on multiple charges of supposed “drug diversion,” Jane M. Orient, M.D., Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, issued this statement:
“Most of the doctors charged in these types of cases never should have been prosecuted. Many are the victims of criminals who divert drugs for their own gain with clever, long-term scams that prey upon the doctors’ inclination and ethic to do whatever they can to help patients they believe to be in pain.
“Every prosecution of a physician robs hundreds – sometime thousands -- of legitimate pain patients of relief they so desperately need.
“If law enforcement is serious about stopping drug diversion, then it needs to go after the diverters -- instead of physicians. Law enforcement should notify doctors about diverters so they can cut them off. Prosecutors must work WITH doctors instead of trying to entrap them.
“We need communication and cooperation, not prosecution.” (See details of AAPS proposed “Project: Communicate & Cooperate.”)
NOTE: The Association of American Physicians & Surgeons is a non-partisan professional association of physicians in all specialties, dedicated since 1943 to protection of the patient-physician relationship. AAPS is dues supported, and accepts no government funding, or pharmaceutical or other corporate underwriting. In June 2003, AAPS announced its support for Dr. Hassman.