Physicians need to understand that investigation for departures from the standard of care starts a rather complex process in multiple arenas — and not just criminally.
First, physicians may see suspension of their DEA license. While there is an administrative remedy to appeal this suspension, many are caught off guard by the rapid suspension of their license immediately after allegations of unlawful prescribing/dispensing are levied.
Second, physicians may see their CMS privileges suspended or revoked pending criminal/administrative proceedings. This means that physicians primarily billing Medicare or Medicaid will immediately lose any source of revenue expected from previous billings not already paid by CMS and may face clawback of prior fraudulent billings.
And third, physicians may face immediate suspension of their medical license and/or dispensing license. Physicians practicing in multiple states must also be aware that those states will be notified and will likely take administrative action.
A physician facing a criminal investigation, or charges for unlawful dispensing or prescribing, will immediately face an administrative battle on three fronts. This is in addition to the criminal complaint or indictment that is likely pending.
Sentencing guidelines for what amounts to drug trafficking under state and federal law vary and are heavily determinate upon the individual charged and the circumstances of the particular offense(s). However, even one count of unlawful prescribing is likely to subject a physician to jail time, or at least a very lengthy probationary period, in addition to licensing sanctions.
While some damage may be prevented by an aggressive criminal defense and a professional licensing defense, your attorney must be knowledgeable about all of these areas in order to adequately defend your interests.
Too often, physicians overlook the complexity of these arenas and hire an attorney only skilled in criminal law. However, an attorney skilled in state and federal criminal law, as well as state and federal administrative law, will be more economical than hiring multiple attorneys, provide better care due to knowledge of the interplay between all arenas, and be prepared to aggressively protect your rights, your livelihood and your freedom.