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DEA Administrative Audit at a Physician’s Office

March 18, 2022 DEA Defense Lawyers

The Spodek Law Group is here to assist with DEA administrative audits at the offices of physicians and healthcare providers. As a top tier federal healthcare defense law firm, we understand how much of a burden DEA audits can be, and the harsh penalties you might face because of them. We aggressively defend the interests of healthcare providers during intense DEA audits.

The DEA is a law enforcement agency which is tasked with fighting drug trafficking and illegal drug distribution. The DEA has thousands of employees fighting this fight. Most of the people arrested by the DEA are dealers and traffickers. Many doctors and pharmacists are also involved in this illegal trade. In 2021, the DEA brought charges against over 50 healthcare providers. The DEA’s Diversion Control Division is the greatest threat to healthcare providers. According to the DEA, the purpose of the Diversion Control Division is to investigate the diversion of pharmaceuticals from legitimate sources. Bottom line – they are focused on determining how/why/who is involved in the illegal diversion of drugs from meaningfully legitimate purposes.

When does the DEA audit a physician?

DEA administrative audits happen for a number of reasons. Generally, physicians are subject to routine audits – usually every few years. In addition to these regular audits, the DEA can initiate administrative audits – if it determines the healthcare provider is not complying with federal laws and regulations. The DEA looks for a number of red flags, such as:

  • Physicians who are selling prescriptions to drug dealers
  • Pharmacists who are falsifying records to sell drugs
  • Employees who are stealing from inventory

If your healthcare practice’s protocols are different from other healthcare providers in your area, this is another potential red flag. If you service a large number of out-of-state patients, this is another potential red flag. It could signal to the DEA, you’re engaged in drug diversion and drug trafficking. The DEA also relies on tips/whistleblowers from other doctors/patients/pharmacists, in order to determine whether or not to audit you.

It’s important to realize, the DEA isn’t simply looking for drug trafficking. They also looking for recordkeeping violations. While these violations aren’t necessarily criminal – it can lead to increased suspicion from DEA agents who are going to then do an in-depth audit.

What should you do when facing a DEA administrative audit

When the DEA decides it’s going to investigate you – it provides no notice. Doctors have no time to prepare. It’s essential you have prepared for this – if, and when, it happens. If you are audited, you should have a game plan on what you’re going to do. The first thing to remember is that the DEA is a law enforcement agency. It also means, they are investigating you because they’ve found cause to do so – and think you’re breaking the law. Anything you say – can, and will, be used against you. Speaking with DEA agents about anything about your case is unwise. It’s important to hire a DEA audit attorney to speak to DEA agents on your behalf. The DEA cannot conduct an audit, or search, your healthcare practice without a warrant or your permission. Often, DEA agents will try to bypass the warrant requirement by asking healthcare providers to consent to an audit.

Refusing consent prevents them from auditing your practice that exact day – but it won’t stop them from seeking a traditional search warrant, or an administrative inspection warrant. Refusing a search/audit is your right. If you refuse to consent, agents might be suspicious.

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