Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Worst Experience of My Career: a Follow Up

Previous post: Agents in the Waiting Room: To Warn or Not

In DEA Suboxone Audit: Worst Experience of My Career As a Physician I relayed a first hand account of an audit of an OBOT physician by DEA agents.

[I am postponing the bulk of this post indefinitely at the request of the physician, but stay tuned]

The bottom line: Because of these audits opiate addicts will find it more difficult to obtain effective treatment. They will likely continue to obtain drugs illegally, in many cases provided by those physicians DEA should target. Some of them will die. And DEA agents will have more job security.

Audits should be conducted by administrative personnel who know how to conduct themselves with respect in a physician’s office, not law enforcement personnel, who instead should pursue suspected criminals. DEA should schedule audits. If DEA wants to collect information about trends in drug use, they should look elsewhere. Patients should be informed and have an opportunity to object if agents attempt to force access to records without a court order. I might consider refusing access to identified records in the absence of a court order. Physicians should consider refusing to provide information in writing or orally that does not relate to the stated purpose of the audit.

Illinois attorney Glen Crick wrote about DEA inspections with a focus on requests to surrender registration:


You have a right to obtain legal counsel. But according to yet another physician, Agent Nice denounced Dr. Brave for retaining an attorney. Patients in your waiting room have a right to know these are law enforcement agents. Physicians should make sure to have a witness such as an office manager present during the audit: Agents may lie about what happened during their investigation at your office. Do not trust what a DEA agent tells you during an audit.

Maybe you or another physician will qualify for one of these:

or speak out from your bumper. Better yet, send one as a gift to your favorite DEA agent. I sent one to R. Gil Kerlikowske at the Office of National Drug Control Policy:

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