Individuals who work in the healthcare field who have been accused of the crime of drug diversion need to immediately retain an attorney who is skilled in this area of defense. Drug diversion is a serious criminal charge that is more common than you might think. Every single year, many healthcare providers around the country are investigated on suspicion of drug diversion and other drug-related crimes. This is a white-collar crime that is often investigated by either state or federal law enforcement agencies.
What is Drug Diversion?
Drug diversion is a crime that involves the misuse or misappropriation of a controlled substance. Usually, the drug is either a narcotic, opioid or prescription medication. Anyone can be charged with this crime, but over the past few years, more and more professionals in healthcare have been charged with it as a white-collar crime. There are various ways in which a doctor or other healthcare professional may be accused of diverting drugs.
Consequences of Drug Diversion
A medical professional who is investigated for drug diversion can face a number of consequences. They include the following:
• Conspiracy charges
• Criminal conviction
• Financial penalties
• Healthcare fraud assessments
• Lengthy prison sentence
• Long-term damage to reputation
• Loss of DEA registration
• Suspension or revocation of medical license
As a result of all of these potential penalties and more, it’s absolutely essential for any medical professional who is under investigation for drug diversion to immediately retain an experienced criminal defense attorney. It’s the best chance of protecting your rights, your freedom and your medical license.
What’s the Difference Between Criminal Drug Diversion and Drug Diversion Treatment Programs?
There may be some confusion with the term “drug diversion” due to the existence of drug diversion treatment programs. “Drug diversion” has two different meanings that are important to understand. As a criminal offense, drug diversion involves the misuse of controlled substances. However, there are treatment programs offered for individuals who are undergoing substance abuse disorders known as drug diversion therapy. In some cases, a medical professional who is under investigation for drug diversion may voluntarily enroll in a drug diversion treatment program. However, the best option for them is to first contact an attorney.
Forms of Drug Diversion by Medical Professionals
There are certain ways in which drug diversion crimes can be committed by individuals in the healthcare field. They include the following:
• Falsifying or exaggerating a medical condition to prescribe certain drugs
• Forging a prescription
• Keeping a patient’s medication for yourself or a third party
• Giving someone else a prescription pad
• Prescribing more medication than the patient needs
• Prescribing or delivering medication to the wrong patient
• Stealing a prescription pad
• Stealing drugs from a clinic, DEA-registered facility or hospital
• Writing prescriptions that are medically unnecessary
How Does a Drug Diversion Investigation Work?
Investigations for drug diversion can take place at the state or federal level. Those done by the state typically begin after someone gives agents a tip, usually as a confidential informant. These individuals are usually a coworker or patient of the person to be investigated for the crime. However, sometimes, the state licensing board receives a tip first and then law enforcement is informed.
A person who is being investigated may or may not know about the investigation. Usually, it’s not known until an investigator contacts you for an interview. However, at that point, the investigation is very much underway.
A federal investigation for drug diversion is considerably more intensive than at the state level. Generally speaking, cases are typically handled by the DEA Office of Diversion Control. Some cases see federal and state agents as well as local law enforcement officers working together. While an investigation is ongoing, it’s not uncommon for undercover agents to be involved in the case. There may also be video and audio surveillance and medical colleagues, staff and even patients may be asked to cooperate in the investigation.
It’s imperative to consult with a drug diversion defense lawyer immediately if you are being investigated for this crime. Your attorney can handle the crucial steps needed during the investigation to potentially get you the best possible outcome in your case. The charges against you may be reduced or even dismissed depending on the circumstances. Do not wait; speak with an attorney at your earliest convenience.
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