Every now and again you come across something so dang awful you almost can’t wrap your mind around it.
Medical software company Practice Fusion Inc has settled a lawsuit filed against it by the State of Vermont by agreeing to pay nearly $150 million dollars. The settlement clears the company from criminal or civil liability for a hideous breach of professional ethics.
Practice Fusion developed medical records software used by doctor’s offices all over the county. They solicited manufacturers of opioid medications for kickbacks. In return for the payments, they created pop-ups within the medical software that reminded doctors to check for pain level and even suggested prescribing opioids made by the pharmaceutical companies that paid the kickbacks.
Not only that, the marketing companies for the opioid manufacturers were allowed to design the alerts, decide when doctors received alerts, and even work on the language in the alerts. All of this happened between 2014 and 2019, long after the devastating effects of the over-prescription of opioids were widely known.
The company is also in trouble for lying in order to get the medical software certified for use in medical offices.
This issue is of particular importance to me because of the devastating effect opioid addiction has had on my hometown of Portsmouth, Ohio. Portsmouth is located in Scioto County in Southern Ohio. With a population of around 75,000, over 48 million opioid pills were shipped to the county by pharmaceutical companies over the course of eight years.