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Opioid Drugs

Arlington County Doc Convicted of Painkiller Conspiracy

— December 25, 2023

A Virginia pain physician has been charged with doling out excessive pain pills to her patients.

The drug problem that has spread across the United States seems to only get worse with each passing day. More and more people are becoming addicted to various substances, and while some of them experience negative impacts to their lives in various ways, others have their lives ended entirely through an overdose. While most of the attention in the battle against addiction and painkiller conspiracy cases gets focused on drug dealers, cartels, and the like, there is also a problem with actual doctors making these substances easily available.

A recent case in Arlington County, Viriginia, highlights just how this works and the damage it can do. When addictive drugs can flow into the community not only through dealers but also through doctors, it makes the battle against this kind of substance abuse that much more difficult to fight.

When thinking about how many pills could possibly be prescribed by a single doctor, a number over 1 million probably doesn’t cross the mind. That’s exactly what Arlington County Kirsten Van Steenberg Ball was convicted of doing, however, as she prescribed in excess of a million addictive oxycodone pills over the course of a decade. Despite red flags coming from the patients, she continued to freely prescribe these pills, claiming that it was in an effort to help the patients manage their pain when, in fact, it was a dangerous, life-threatening scheme to turn a profit.

Arlington County Doc Convicted of Painkiller Conspiracy
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Federal prosecutors in the case argued that the doctor ignored relevant warnings and regularly overprescribed pain killers for patients. Additionally, she was charged with falsifying records and leading patients into addiction as a result of her actions. The jury came back with a guilty verdict on nearly all of the counts brought against the doctor.

There was some degree of warning for this painkiller conspiracy, as the same doctor received a reprimand in 2015 for having lax prescription habits. She also admitted to having lied on insurance claims, and some of her past patients spoke to the enabling that they felt led them into a life of addiction.

This case was helped by the actions of undercover FBI agents who were able to easily obtain prescriptions from Dr. Ball during the course of an investigation. As a result of her actions, Dr. Ball faces potentially decades in prison once she is sentenced in this case. A strong sentence will not only provide a measure of justice for those who were harmed by the doctor but will also serve as a warning to other doctors that these types of crimes are going to be taken seriously and prosecuted fully.

Are doctors the biggest problem in the war against drugs and addictions in this country? No – that is almost certainly not the case. But any source of drugs that can flow into the community and add to the addiction problem is one worth monitoring and addressing as soon as possible. With the conviction in the case discussed above, hopefully there will be a message sent to other doctors that carefully managing prescriptions is in everyone’s best interests.


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