| June 2016
You wouldn’t believe what
happened when this drug seeker
came through our office...
One of the partners in our endodontic
practice initially saw this patient in our
endodontic office. He rejected her
request for narcotics a few days before
she appeared on my schedule. Yes, she
rescheduled with a different doctor in
the SAME office in hopes of getting
drugs. The nerve! Noticing the same
patient name, the aforementioned
partner in the office warned me that
this lady was a drug seeker.
One of this office partner’s favorite past
time is poker. I’ve played with him, and
he catches tells exceptionally well, and I
bet he could read her poker face. The
other factor was that she presented
classic signs: showing up late afternoon
on the schedule near closing—hoping
the dentist doesn’t care to treat at the
end of the day; refusing treatment; and
asking for pain meds. When these com-
binations show up, our partners usually
perform an Rx query.
On the day she was on my schedule,
we ran through some strategy and
had a game plan. I also called Dean
Wright from the Pharmacy Board
about this case, so we also had an ace
in the cards. He recommended that I
submit an abuse report on their web-
site known as a fraud alert (
Before she arrived, we ran her his-
tory on the Arizona State Board of
Pharmacy website (
The results were alarming: this doctor
shopper has been prescribed 132 nar-
cotic prescriptions over the last year.
These prescriptions were filled at 41
different pharmacies. Just over eighty
clinicians wrote her scripts…OBGYNs,
dentists—you name the medical pro-
fessional, and she saw them. In fact,
we recognized a huge list of dental
colleagues who fell for her story. The
immediate takeaway from what we
saw: Use the pharmacy board site!
Later that day, the woman arrived for
the appointment and was seated. By
outward appearance, a nice lady who
you wouldn’t expect would have a
drug problem. Just another reminder
that drug seekers come from all walks
of life. She did not appear nervous.
From her Rx history, she had a lot of
practice and was successful. Part of
this is that we probably judge people
by the way they look. Addiction hits
everyone from all walks of life. In her
case, she dressed well and didn’t look
like a typical addict—if we were to
imagine what an addict would even
look like. I have a dental school class-
mate who was an addict, and he also
doesn’t look the part either. He was
interviewed by a newspaper about
his broken life. He’s better now and
back to work.
She indicated she was a probation of-
ficer, and in fact she was packing heat.
Looked legit—ID and everything.
We went through the usual examina-
tion, diagnosis, and treatment plan. I
told her she either needed to save
the tooth with root canal and crown,
or extract the tooth.
She mentioned that she was getting
paid the next day and didn’t have
time to treat that day.
Dr. Joe Richardson’s approach was unconventional, direct, and confrontational—it probably saved a life
Tung Bui, DDS
She dressed well
and didn’t look
like a typical ad-
dict—if we were
to imagine what
an addict would
even look like.