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How to Prepare for a DEA Surprise Audit

Safety officer/Supervisor is writing note on the checklist paper during perform audit and inspection in oil field operation. Close-up action and selective focus photo.

Finding yourself under audit by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is a jarring and harrowing prospect for anyone. Businesses or practices that involve prescribing, dispensing, or administering controlled substance medications must all register with the DEA. The DEA may audit or inspect any entity under its purview, regardless of whether it has grounds to suspect foul play. Continue reading for tips on how to protect your healthcare institution in advance of a DEA audit, and speak with a professional and experienced California DEA investigation defense lawyer for advice concerning government healthcare investigations.

Expect Surprise Audits

First and foremost, it is important to expect a DEA audit at any time. Even if you believe your practice is entirely above-board and compliant, the DEA might still conduct a routine inspection. They generally occur every three years or so. These inspections do not require criminal warrants, even if they are inspecting for violations of the federal Controlled Substance Act (CSA), which can lead to criminal prosecution. If you refuse to grant consent to the inspection, the DEA must then obtain an administrative inspection warrant or search warrant.

Best Practices to Prepare for Audits

In addition to generally complying with all applicable state and federal healthcare and business laws, there are a handful of steps that a healthcare entity can take to stand ready at all times for a surprise visit from the DEA. Some of the steps your entity can take include the following:

  • Designate a primary employee (and a back-up) to manage controlled substance management
  • Draft detailed policies and procedures for responding to DEA audits
  • Draft, maintain and regularly review controlled substances policies to ensure compliance
  • Conduct periodic mock DEA inspections to stay fresh, identify weaknesses in the processes, and identify any compliance issues
  • Keep all controlled substance records in a single, easily-accessible location
  • Ensure that all controlled substances are maintained in secure areas outside of processing, packaging, labeling, or conveying to secure loading areas. Return all controlled substances to the secure areas at the end of each workday, and ensure that all controlled substances awaiting destruction are properly recorded.
  • Conduct regular inspections of security surrounding controlled substance storage, including regularly updating locks, key cards, and other security measures
  • Maintain due diligence on customers and keep on top of any suspicious customer order monitoring and reporting

These are just a few of the steps that a well-maintained healthcare business should regularly take to ensure regulatory compliance and preparedness for a DEA inspection or audit. If you are contacted by the DEA, speak with a DEA defense attorney for assistance with responding to the audit, inspection, or investigation.

Protect Your Practice from DEA Prosecution

For help responding to DEA investigations and healthcare legal compliance, or with matters pertaining to healthcare business formation, business disputes, or any other healthcare law issue, contact the Law Offices of Art Kalantar for a free initial consultation in Los Angeles or statewide at 310-773-0001.

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