Therefore, the moment you find out a DEA investigation or audit of your Austin practice is pending, you should immediately contact a lawyer. He or she will advise you of the rights you have in this type of situation. Your lawyer will also discuss the best way to proceed as he or she represents you before and during the audit.
DEA Audits and Investigations
Audits and investigations are conducted to determine whether healthcare providers remain compliant with the Controlled Substance Act. There are a variety of reasons that your practice has become the subject of a DEA audit or inspection:
• A patient or pharmacy has expressed concerns with your prescribing practices
• There appears to be deviations in your prescribing patterns when compared to others who prescribe similar medications
• Your practice is one of many random selections to ensure compliance
Generally, practitioners are inspected by the DEA one time every three years. However, prescribing certain drugs such as buprenorphine may require more frequent inspections. Having a Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 waiver may also spark more inspections.
Warrants and Notices of Inspection (DEA Form 82)
The DEA does not need to obtain a search warrant for the inspection, unlike criminal searches. However, if other agencies are conducting the search for criminal proceedings and the DEA is part of the criminal investigation, the agency must get a warrant before searching your practice or clinic.
The audit commences once a Notice of Inspection of Controlled Premises, or DEA Form 82, is presented. Alternately, agency representatives may have an administrative inspection warrant to present to you prior to the inspection.
DEA diversion investigators, who are part of the DEA’s Diversion Control Program and assigned to various field offices, conduct the inspections across the United States.
Giving Informed Consent for DEA Audits
If the diversion investigator presents a DEA Form 82, you must give informed consent before the inspection can begin. This is not simply a verbal consent that lets them on the premises; you must provide a written voluntary statement consent to the investigation.
Additionally, the statement should include acknowledgment of being informed of your constitutional right to not have the administrative inspection. Finally, the statement must also acknowledge that anything incriminating found during the inspection can be used against you in a criminal prosecution case.
The administrative search warrant is unnecessary if:
• You are applying for an initial DEA registration
• The inspection is for books and records listed on an administrative subpoena
• There is imminent danger to the public’s health or safety and the opportunity to apply for the warrant can take too long
Scope of Inspections
Keep in mind, just because the DEA has a search warrant, they do not have the authority to inspect the entire premises. There are limits to what can be inspected. A recent ruling that expands the scope of inspections to patient records, but it is unclear whether this will be allowed under an administrative search warrant.
During the search, the DEA may try to interview you or your employees. Any information from those discussions could be used against you during a criminal or administrative proceeding. Therefore, you should speak with a lawyer before speaking with the DEA to ensure the agency does not go beyond the scope of what the search warrant allows.
Audit Reports for Noncompliance
If noncompliance is found during the inspections, the DEA writes an audit report that details the noncompliant issues under the CSA. If noncompliance is found, the matter might be referred to the Department of Justice.
This is where criminal prosecution of what was found is considered. You may also face administrative action against your DEA registration.
Seek Experienced Austin DEA Audit and Investigation Lawyers
Raiser & Kenniff, PC DEA audit and investigation lawyers are experienced in defending our clients against audits, investigations and subsequent actions by the DEA. We work with pharmacies, practitioners, distributors and others with a DEA registration.
Not only are we dedicated to protect your DEA registration, but to also protect your professional licenses, career and reputation. Allegations and investigations of noncompliance can cause damage to your professional reputation.