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DEA Red Flags That Can Trigger DEA Investigations (Raids) into Your Pactice

By Ronald W. Chapman, II

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office of diversion uses “red flag” indicators to determine which doctors should be the subject of increased scrutiny, undercover visits, or potentially, a raid. The presence of a greater number of these red flags increases the likelihood of scrutiny. Many of our physician clients who have been indicted for drug trafficking say they wish they had known that some of the “red flags” present at their practice were problematic in the first place. At Chapman Law Group, we have extensive experience dealing with the DEA
in criminal and administrative matters, and have compiled a list of DEA “red flags” used to determine if a physician may be prescribing for “other than legitimate medical purposes.” If
your practice presents some of these DEA “red flags,” contact Chapman Law Group immediately. If we can quickly audit your practice and implement changes swiftly, we may be able to prevent criminal charges or the suspension of your DEA registration by showing that you are engaged in the good faith treatment of your patients.

There is nothing illegal about most of these DEA “red flags.” However, possessing even a few of these may cause your clinic or practice to face increased scrutiny from the DEA or other Federal agencies. For your consideration, below is a comprehensive list of DEA “red flags” itemized by importance.

DEA “Red Flags”

  •  The practice is cash only.
  • Does not bill insurance.
  • High number of Out-of-State patients.
  • High proportion of Schedule II and III Narcotics relative to legend drugs.
  • Patients travel long distances to fill prescriptions.
  • Provider is not board-certified, or practices outside of his/her specialty (i.e. a G.P. practicing pain management).
  • High number of family members in a pain management practice.
  • Lack of interventional techniques or physical therapy.
  • High number of “doctor shoppers.”
  • High number of patients per day (i.e. 30-40 vs 15-25).
  • Patients travel long distances to receive treatment.
  • “Marketers” frequent your practice. Marketers gather potential patients together and drive them to a pain management clinic. Once the patients receive their prescription, they sell it to the marketer. Some marketers may seem legitimate and call themselves caretakers or drivers.
  • Office does not appear as a “typical” medical practice.
  • Office does not have proper equipment (i.e. no exam tables, EKG, blood pressure).
  • Office is open during unusual hours.
  • Limited number of support staff (i.e. no nurses, medical assistant, or N.P. on staff).

If your practice presents some of these “red flags,” you may face scrutiny from the DEA in the form of undercover patient visits, or even the execution of a search warrant (a raid). The items above are all frequently argued by Federal prosecutors when seeking a conviction against a doctor for prescribing “without a legitimate medical purpose,” and therefore engaging in Drug Trafficking. If any of the items above at your practice are present, help yourself and contact Chapman Law Group today for a free consultation. We can review your practice model and assist with developing a compliance plan to get your practice back on track, and possibly prevent criminal charges.

Contact Chapman Law Group today for your free consultation at (248) 644-6326.

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