Subpoena of Limbaugh's doctors OK'd with restrictions

Friday, December 16, 2005

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida -- Prosecutors can subpoena Rush Limbaugh's doctors as part of an investigation into whether the conservative radio commentator illegally bought painkillers, a judge ruled.

Judge David F. Crow ruled Monday that Florida laws do not prevent doctors from talking with prosecutors if the discussion is relevant to the prosecution of a crime.

The decision gave prosecutors permission to subpoena doctors and their staff, but it also protected confidential material in Limbaugh's medical records. The judge noted that Florida law prohibits the discussion of a patient's medical condition and information disclosed by a patient during treatment.

Prosecutors and an attorney for Limbaugh both said they benefited from the ruling.

Prosecutors seized Limbaugh's records after learning that he received about 2,000 painkillers, prescribed by four doctors in six months, at a pharmacy near his Palm Beach mansion. They contend that Limbaugh engaged in "doctor shopping" by illegally deceiving multiple doctors to receive overlapping prescriptions.

Limbaugh has not been charged with any crime and maintains his innocence.

He has acknowledged he became addicted to pain medication, blaming it on severe back pain, and took a five-week leave from his radio show to enter a rehabilitation program in 2003.

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