A conflict of interest occurs when physicians own their own pharmacies and there is an incentive for them to prescribe drugs for profit. A similar conflict of interest occurs when lawyers own their own pharmacies and stand to profit from clients who are prescribed medication.
A Workers’ Comp law firm in Philadelphia recently opened its own pharmacy; the law firm requests that all physicians have their Workers’ Compensation patients’ prescriptions filled by their pharmacy. This raises several concerns for those injured in workplace accidents in any state in which doctors and lawyers enter into such entrepreneurial endeavors.
South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law
On Sept. 1, 1935, the South Carolina Industrial Commission (now the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission) was created to administer and enforce the state’s Workers’ Compensation law. While the laws have changed over the years, the six basic objectives of Workers’ Compensation have remained the same:
- Provide expedient income and medical benefits to those injured on the job or to their dependents, regardless of fault
- Reduce delays and other costs associated with personal injury litigation, instead providing a single remedy
- Reduce the financial burden to charities due to uncompensated workplace accidents
- Minimize the legal fees and time associated with trials and court appeals
- Provide employers with an incentive to ensure employer safety and rehabilitation
- Promote focus on research regarding the causes of accidents to reduce preventable accidents in the future rather than concealment of fault
With a few exceptions, South Carolina employees are generally covered by the state Workers’ Compensation Act. Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina covers necessary medical treatment, lost wages during periods of disability, and provides compensation for permanent disability or disfigurement.
Amounts of compensation are dependent upon the nature of the injury and the average wage of the employee. South Carolina workers are covered for both injuries by workplace accident and occupational disease.
Accidents must be reported to the Commission by employers within ten days of receiving notice or having knowledge of the accident. The Commission is responsible for monitoring the payment of medical treatment and compensation provided to workers and ensuring that the Workers’ Compensation system is fair, equitable and responsive to the needs of South Carolina citizens.
Potential Conflicts of Interest
When doctors and lawyers own their own pharmacies, potential conflicts of interest are present. Although prescriptions may be dispensed faster, they can also be more expensive. Standard pharmacies often charge a fraction of the cost for certain drugs that doctor or lawyer-owned pharmacies dispense.
The Rules of Professional Conduct in many states prohibit lawyers from entering into a business transaction with a client that is averse to the client’s pecuniary interest unless certain requirements are met, one of which is full disclosure of the situation to the client.
However, clients are often unaware that their doctors and lawyers are profiting from their prescriptions. A doctor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School describes the setup as ripe for corruption and an issue of legitimate concern.
York County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Fight for Injured South Carolina Workers Vulnerable to a Corrupt System
If you or a loved one is looking to obtain Workers’ Compensation, contact a Workers’ Compensation lawyer in York County at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A.. Complete an online form or call us at 803-929-3600 or 866-881-8623 to schedule a free consultation. With locations in Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, Newberry County, we represent workers throughout the state of South Carolina.