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Healthcare providers are subject to DEA audits and investigations routinely. The DEA conducts these audits in a bid to track cases of misuse and abuse of controlled substances. Instances of the public getting easy access to prescription drugs have become prevalent and are contributing to the increased number of substance abusers. It is not rare for some healthcare professionals to divert their drug inventory for other uses. The regulations on drug ordering and dispensing have become tougher, and that means healthcare professionals have more to deal with.
The DEA gives permissions to institutions and practitioners to conduct their business through registration. However, these entities have to adhere to the Controlled Substances Act. A violation can lead to several problems with your registration. Providers in San Diego also have to deal with state and federal regulations. Coming up short on the relevant rules could mean a lot of trouble, not just for companies but individuals as well. When you find yourself subject to a DEA audit or investigation, getting a qualified attorney is advisable.
DEA Audits and Investigations
The Drug Enforcement Agency is mandated to conduct inspections of onsite pharmacies, dispensing physician’s offices, and distributor warehouses that have registration. During these inspections, DEA can ask for various documents including prescriptions, inventory control, and ordering records. Usually, the agency gives a notice of inspection before beginning one. However, an administrative search warrant can be used in cases where a registrant is uncooperative.
Mostly, the DEA will utilize its administrative mandate to carry out audits and investigations. Nonetheless, a case may involve a criminal search warrant. After receiving a notice of an audit or inspection, it is useful to have a legal professional present. A simple review can turn into an extensive investigation that may come with dire consequences.
The DEA can start an investigation into your actions after receiving a tip from a patient or any other party. It can also be the result of prescription and dispensing patterns that deviate from the norm. An inspection could as well be a routine procedure as per regulation with the registration. General inspections from the DEA take place once every three years. Although, a practitioner with a Drug Addiction Treatment Act waiver or who prescribes buprenorphine can expect more regular visits from the agency. Other DEA registrants that include narcotics distributors and treatment programs get inspected once every five years.
Before the DEA can move forward with an inspection, it is mandatory to provide notice to the party under investigation. Receiving the notice of inspection, or DEA Form 82, gives you an opportunity to prepare and get your affairs in order, which means getting legal representation. Regardless of what triggered an audit or investigation, having a lawyer present will stop you from committing common mistakes or incriminating yourself. An attorney for DEA audits and investigations knows the right documents to submit and how to handle the process.
When conducting audits, the DEA asks for informed consent from the registrant. This document is a voluntary consent that a registrant gives admitting knowledge of an audit. It means that any evidence that turns up during the inspection is admissible in court. However, in cases where the DEA has a subpoena for your records, consent won’t be necessary. Informed consent also not needed when the agency is conducting inspections for the purpose of registration or when an imminent danger to the public is present. Before giving consent, ensure that you get legal counsel first.
Implications of DEA Audits
When the DEA conducts an audit or investigation and gets proof of misconduct, the consequences can be severe. At the very least, your registration could be revoked. The agency could also deny registration to a healthcare provider if not satisfied with the results of an inspection. Besides administrative penalties, there could be criminal and civil procedures.
A San Diego lawyer with the know-how of DEA audits and investigations can provide guidance on what to do during these processes. An attorney is aware of the local ordinances as well, and that knowledge is handy in such situations. Protocols regarding healthcare may not be very familiar to most local authorities, and that can present some challenges when it comes to investigations. A lawyer can ensure fairness and adherence to legal procedures by all parties.