FLORIDA Ruling opens Limbaugh's medical records



The commentator had opted for painkillers over surgery, his attorney said.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Prosecutors can examine Rush Limbaugh's medical records to determine whether he should be charged with "doctor shopping" for prescription painkillers, a judge ruled.
Judge Jeffrey A. Winikoff of Palm Beach Circuit Court denied today the conservative commentator's request to keep the records sealed.
Limbaugh's attorneys had argued that the seizure of the records from doctors in Florida and California violated the radio host's privacy. Investigators had obtained the records last month after discovering that Limbaugh received more than 2,000 painkillers, prescribed by four doctors, at a pharmacy near his $24 million Palm Beach mansion.
Doctor-shopping refers to looking for a doctor willing to prescribe drugs illegally, or getting prescriptions for a single drug from more than one doctor at the same time.
The Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office began investigating Limbaugh last year, after his former maid told them she had been supplying him prescription painkillers for years.
Limbaugh recently admitted his addiction, stemming from severe back pain, and took a five-week leave from his afternoon radio show to enter a rehabilitation program. He returned to the show in mid-November.
Roy Black, Limbaugh's lawyer, said his client suffered from a degenerative disc disease with "pain so great at one point doctors thought he had bone cancer," and that Limbaugh chose to take addictive painkillers rather than have surgery.
Surgery would have meant doctors would have gone through Limbaugh's throat to operate on his spine, which could have threatened his career as a commentator, Black said during a hearing Monday.