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| 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.