NYC Nursing License Defense Lawyers
Our firm has represented numerous New York licensed pharmacists in all types of government investigations. Pharmacists must continuously keep their license in good standing in order to practice their profession in New York. Loss or suspension of license can occur as a result of a finding of professional misconduct or of a criminal conviction. A pharmacist who learns of an impending audit or investigation should contact an experienced health care defense attorney who is proficient in defending pharmacist in matters related to licensing.
How Pharmacists Are Investigated for Misconduct in New York
In New York, pharmacists are subject to professional discipline by the State Department of Education, Office of Professional Discipline (OPD). Investigations for misconduct may be initiated based on complaints against the pharmacist, or on the existence of a criminal conviction. Either way, the stakes are high and no pharmacist can afford to take a wrong step. In the course of the investigation, the pharmacist will be contacted by an OPD investigator by a letter. As a licensee, you have an obligation to comply with the investigation. If the investigator requests any documents from you, you may be required to submit those documents. However, you have no obligation to speak with the investigator. We advise that you never do so without first consulting your attorney. Any statements you make, no matter how casual, will be weighed against you and typically will be interpreted in a negative light. Investigators will also demand records and get statements from witnesses. Before submitting any information, be sure to review everything with your attorney.
Misconduct investigations are frequently intertwined with audits or investigation by other agencies that may suspect fraud, substandard care, controlled substances violations, or other issues. Be aware that statements and information submitted in the course of the professional misconduct investigation may be used by other agencies. For best results, look for an attorney with expertise in all aspects of health care investigations as they relate to pharmacists. Our attorneys have handled hundreds of OPD cases at all stages and we can certainly help you with your case.
In some cases, we can actually convince OPD to terminate the investigation without any effects. If the investigator believes that there is sufficient evidence of misconduct, they will create an report and refer it to the investigative committee. At this point, a prosecutor will be assigned to the case and we can deal with them to resolve the matter.
Sometimes, prosecutors may seem willing to settle. We will examine their proposals and advise you as to potential collateral effects so that you can make an informed decision. Some types of admission may have adverse consequences such as potential exclusion from Medicare and Medicaid, which can be a severe blow for most pharmacists.
Most investigations targeting pharmacists tend to focus on fraud, controlled substances violations, and improper handling of medication and/or labels. A finding of that either of these offenses has been committed is likely to result in the loss of the pharmacist’s license, in addition to other penalties such as fines, exclusion from programs, and referral for criminal prosecution. Pharmacists should also be aware that they may be liable for fraud if it is found that they enabled another person to commit fraud. If you are a pharmacist who is concerned about potential allegations of fraud or drug violations, consult our experienced health law attorneys. We can help you set up compliance programs and mechanisms that will minimize the occurrence of violations through prevention, early detection, and effective correction, all without hampering your day-to-day operations.
Professional misconduct allegations may also arise from improper advertising, violating anti-kickback statutes, impairment from alcohol or drugs, lack of proper record-keeping, and failure to pay mandated child support. A pharmacist who has been convicted of a crime, even one unrelated to the pharmaceutical practice, can also be charged with misconduct and lose his or her license. If you are a pharmacist and you have been charged with any type of crime, make sure that your attorney is also proficient in health care law and will be able to formulate a defense that takes into account the need to protect your professional license.
Another area of concern is alcohol and drug addiction. If this is a factor, while your top priority should be getting help, it is important to do that in a way that will not jeopardize your license. Speak with your attorney to find out what the best course of action is in dealing with alcohol and controlled substances issues.
In some cases, self-reporting a violation can result in a mitigation of consequences. Before you take this step, you should consult your attorney for guidance as to whether self-reporting will help you in this given instance, and if so, what is the best way to undertake it. Never volunteer information to any agency without speaking with your attorneys first.
Some pharmacists, upon learning that they are being investigated, feel that they have done nothing wrong and therefore investigators will ultimately come to understand this and end the investigation. Unfortunately, the chances of this happening are fairly low. Once an investigation is begun, you are under suspicion and all irregularities and errors will be counted against you. For this reason, it is imperative to retain an experienced health care attorney as soon as you learn you are being investigated. Our attorneys will use their experience and knowledge to strategize and formulate the most effective defense for your case.
Besides OPD, investigations that can affect your license can be initiated by one or more agencies, including the Department of Justice, the DEA, the FDA, the Office of Civil Rights, and state and local law enforcement including the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Office of Medicaid Inspector General. Our attorneys have successfully represented pharmacists in dealing with a wide variety of investigating and prosecuting agencies. We work hard to protect your license and to obtain optimal outcomes. Our attorneys are available to represent pharmacists at any stage of the investigation process, including appeals, criminal prosecutions, and disciplinary hearings.