Physicians Ask Texas Attorney General About Policy on Military-Style Raids on Medical Facilities

TUCSON, Ariz., Nov. 14, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons sent the following letter to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Governor Rick Perry, after learning of a raid on the office of a Texas family physician by the Drug Enforcement Administration and state police.

"I am writing in regard to a raid on the office of D.M. McClellan, M.D., of Crosby, Texas, on Oct 23, 2012, reported in the Highlands Crosby Star Courier.

"While I recognize that you cannot comment on an ongoing investigation, I would like to know your general policy, so that physicians may know what to expect of their government.

"Under what circumstances would your department approve the following actions:

1. Use of a battering ram to enter a medical facility;

2. Pointing firearms at unarmed staff in a medical facility;

3. Refusal of officers to show identification or a search warrant;

4. Forcing staff to lie face down on the floor or assume other humiliating or painful positions, especially when they are unarmed, elderly, suffering from an illness or disability, and otherwise posing no probable threat to officers; or

5. Seizing medical records without a court order, impairing patients' access to appropriate treatment?

"Is there a special process that must be followed to authorize such actions in each individual circumstance?

"We note that Dr. McClellan's family practice also offers pain management and weight loss services. Does your department disfavor such services? Is there any written policy concerning them? Physicians and ancillary personnel may wish to discontinue such services for the safety of themselves and patients who might be harmed or frightened during heavy-handed enforcement actions. They certainly wish to comply with applicable state law.

"We thank you in advance for a clear statement of state law and policy so that physicians may understand.

"Respectfully yours, Jane M. Orient, M.D., Executive Director"

The War on Drugs has increasingly become an unjustified war on doctors who prescribe for chronic pain patients, stated Dr. Orient.

"It should not be necessary to send a dozen officers in military-style gear to a small, peaceful medical office to capture medical records," she stated. "This is not the first episode we have heard of in which peaceable medical personnel, or even patients and children, have had weapons pointed at them by overzealous law enforcement officers."

If there is a question about a doctor's prescribing practices, a subpoena or search warrant can be executed without disrupting patient care, terrifying staff or patients, or risking an accidental discharge of a firearm.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, founded in 1943.


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