NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FEDERAL LAWYERS
Defense Counsel for New York Pharmacists
Many holders of New York pharmacists licenses have come to us because of our experience representing their peers in all kinds of government investigations. Licensed pharmacists are supposed to dutifully maintain their license in good standing to successfully practice in the State of New York. IN the case that you are determined to be guilty of professional misconduct or are convicted of a criminal offense, authorities could suspend or even revoke your license. Pharmacists who discover an impending audit or investigation is coming their way should contact a well versed healthcare defense attorney with expertise in defending pharmacists on licensing cases.
What Does a New York Pharmacist Misconduct Investigation Look Like
In New York, pharmacists answer to the State Department of Education, Office of Professional Discipline (OPD) in disciplinary matters. In an investigation for misconduct a pharmacist can face complaints that were filed against him or her, and even the possibility of a criminal conviction. Whatever the circumstances, there is a lot at stake and a working pharmacist cannot afford to make any errors. At the launch of the investigation, an OPD investigator sends the pharmacist a letter by mail. License holders are under obligation to cooperate with an investigation into complaints against them. They might be mandated to furnish any requested documents to the investigator for the purposes of the investigation. That fact notwithstanding, they are under no obligation to agree to an interview request with or converse with the investigator. We advise our clients not to do so before first speaking to your lawyer. Whatever statements you may make, as innocuous as they may seem, can and probably will be used against you and will most likely be spun in a negative light. Investigators are also known to request records and solicit statements from witnesses. Don’t offer up any information at all without first reviewing everything with your attorney.
Often the misconduct investigations get wrapped up in audits or an investigation by another agency that may suspect fraud, substandard care, controlled substances violations, or other transgressions. Be clear any statements and/or information you submit or any third party (witnesses, for example) gives OPD during a professional misconduct investigation could be employed by other agencies also. To ensure the most advantageous result, get an attorney with a lot of experience in all areas of healthcare law as they particularly relate to licensed pharmacists. Our lawyers have dealt with hundreds of OPD cases at every stage and we are confident that we can assist you with your case.
In select cases we can persuade OPD to terminate the investigation without any repercussions. If an investigator finds that there is enough evidence of a pharmacist’s misconduct, then they will create a report and pass it on to the investigative committee. From there, a prosecutor will be assigned to your case and we can work with them one on one to settle things.
There are times when a prosecutor may look like he is interested in settling. We can review the settlement terms and help you to see any potential collateral effects so that you can make an informed choice. There are some kinds of admissions that may have negative consequences such as potential exclusion from Medicare and Medicaid, which can post a most difficult dilemma for most pharmacists.
Most frequently, investigations involving pharmacists are dealing with fraud, drug and alcohol (aka controlled substances) violations, and improper handling of medication and/or labels. A ruling of misconduct on any of these infractions could result in the forfeiture of the pharmacist’s license and other penalties that can include fines, exclusion from programs, and referral for criminal prosecution. Pharmacists need to understand that they are open to being found guilty of fraud in the event that an investigator finds that they assisted another person in committing fraud. We are available to pharmacists who are concerned about potential allegations of fraud or drug violations. When you are in this situation, it is a wise move to reach out to our experienced health law attorneys. We can help you in setting up compliance initiatives and other effective mechanisms that will lower your chances of violating regulations through prevention, early detection, and effective correction, all without impeding your day-to-day operations.
Accusations of professional misconduct can also come from improper advertising, breaching anti-kickback statutes, practicing under the influence of controlled substances, neglecting to keep accurate records, and even failure to make mandatory child support payments. A pharmacist who has a criminal conviction on her record, even one that does not relate to their pharmaceutical practice, can also be hit with a charge of misconduct and lose her license. Are you a pharmacist who has been charged with a crime? If you are, make sure that your lawyer is also well versed in health care precepts and is prepared to assemble a complete defense that is built to protect your professional license.
Another big area of concern is addiction to alcohol and drugs. Pharmacists with this issue, beware. Although your top priority should be getting the help you need to deal with your addiction, it is just as important to do that in a way that will not put your license at risk. Consult with your lawyer to figure out what is the best route to take to bring any alcohol and controlled substances issues under control.
Under certain circumstances, self-reporting a violation can pay off in the form of mitigation of consequences. Nevertheless, before opting to take that position, you should talk it over with your legal counsel to see if self-reporting under the given circumstances will do you justice, and if it will, to decide the best route for executing the plan. It is never a smart move to volunteer any information to any officials without checking with your lawyer first.
Some professionals, upon learning that they are being investigated, believe that because, in their view, they have committed no wrongdoing, that investigators will come to this conclusion also and terminate their investigation. In reality, the chances of this happening are slim to none. After the launch of an investigation, you are under suspicion and every little irregularity or mishap will be weighed against you. That is why it is so critical that you bring in an experienced health care lawyer right away when you get notified that you are under investigation. Our team is well experienced and you will be able to put their knowledge to work strategizing with the wisest defense on your case.
Aside from the OPD, other investigations that can put your license in peril can be brought by one or more agencies, including the Department of Justice, the DEA, the FDA, the Office of Civil Rights, and state and local law enforcement including the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Office of Medicaid Inspector General. We have successfully stood in the gap for pharmacists in their dealings with a broad range of investigating and prosecuting units. We work diligently to help you keep your license intact and to win the best possible results for your case. We can assist pharmacists at every point of the investigation process, including appeals, criminal prosecutions, and disciplinary hearings.