My Pain clinic was raided by DEA

  1. Hi All,
    I've been working in pain ~ 3 years. Over the past year I've been simultaneously working in both the inpatient hospital pain management setting and a separate outpatient pain clinic. My outpatient pain clinic in Maryland was raided by DEA and i stupidly voluntarily surrendered my controlled (DEA) license (wrong move i know).
    The clinic wasn't a pill mill, but it was cash only, and supposedly had been under investigation for 2 years. I believe i practiced within my scope and and tried to provide safe care, but I can acknowledge that the prescription pattern of one of my physician colleagues was definitely out of control ( and yes I complained to management about his lax Rx habits all the time). I have kids and my husband is a physician with 2.5 more years of fellowship so our savings are meagre. .I have had to quit my inpatient position now because I gave up DEA license. I know I will never get the DEA license back.
    1-Will I also lose my ability to participate in medicare and thereby my capacity to practice as APRN ?
    2-Am i likely to be investigated by state nursing board ?
    3- Do i need to retain counsel for representation by criminal attorney even if I haven't done anything criminal?
    4-Can I work as an APRN without a DEA liscence to RX controlled substances

    In other words should I just take is a lesson learned and look for the next job or is this going to snowball into a huge deal.

    I don't think I can be charged with anything, because my prescription habits were clean as a whistle. But i'm worried nonetheless because I signed away my DEA license which every single internet site tells me is an admission of guilt somewhat.
  2. Visit linevasel profile page

    About linevasel

    Joined: Sep '13; Posts: 4; Likes: 2

    7 Comments

  3. by   angeloublue22
    What terrible thing to go through. The answers to all your questions. 1-it's likely you could lose your capacity to participate in medicare. 2-Yes 3-a resounding yes and do it ASAP. Anytime you are under investigation, especially for something this serious, even if you did nothing wrong, you need representation. You need to get ahead of this thing and be prepared to fight for you innocence. Do you have practice insurance? 4-you would be seriously hard pressed to find a job with this over your head and with those stipulations. Also, you know this already but yes, it was a mistake to hand over your DEA license. I hope it works out for you.
  4. by   Oldmahubbard
    Not a pill mill, but cash only? and some of the people practicing there apparently thought it was a pill mill?

    This should be a cautionary tale.

    You needed a lawyer specializing in these issues yesterday. You were obviously threatened and railroaded into giving up your license

    On a more reassuring note, I don't bother with maintaining my DEA. I am in psych and I simply don't prescribe benzos or stimulants, so I let the license expire. It has not been an issue but I work in long term care.
  5. by   djmatte
    The above nailed all the answers you need.

    And this reinforces the real necessity to protect yourself at all costs. If you aren't actively searching and utilizing all tools at your disposal, showing real initiative to reduce opiate use, and clearly putting the steps taken in a note, you could open yourself up to litigation. Another thing to consider is anytime you raise concerns regarding other's prescribing practices or internal issues is to enshrine it in an email. Even if you mention it verbally, make sure you write a quick follow up about the discussion to protect yourself and to show you are actively trying to fix things.
  6. by   Goldenfox
    Quote from linevasel

    I don't think I can be charged with anything, because my prescription habits were clean as a whistle. But i'm worried nonetheless because I signed away my DEA license which every single internet site tells me is an admission of guilt somewhat.
    Hi,

    I'm curious to know how this has worked out for you. You got pretty good advice already, but I want to add that you can appeal the DEA thing in federal court---even if you had surrendered the license voluntarily. There are attorneys that specialize in exactly this sort of case. Things might look bleak now but as long as you really didn't do anything illegal or unethical while you were working at the clinic you can appeal and be heard. I am sorry that this happened to you. These types of DEA actions are happening even in places that wouldn't typically be regarded as pill mills now.

    I had a discussion about something similar with an NP colleague who found out only after she had been hired that both the physicians who hired her for the practice where she now works lost their DEA licenses and have actions on their medical licenses by the state board of medicine, and they are using HER name and license to do things---recipe for disaster. I have encouraged her to leave that place but she doesn't seem to take it seriously. Not yet.

    I hope that this turns out well for you.
  7. by   linevasel
    Thank you all for your replies. No movement so far. We have been looking at representation by criminal attorney (in case federal government brings charges) and health law attorney (in case state nursing board makes unfavorable recommendations regarding my licensure and I need to negotiate some sort of settlement ?). This is all 100% brand new for me, but I appreciate your thoughtful answers.

    To the lady with the NP colleague in a similar situation, please feel free to share this story with her. If she has doubts about the clinic and actions or gestures by the DEA and state medical board have already been taken, her clinic is very likely under surveillance. It is not worth the headache.
  8. by   delawaremalenurse
    If your prescribing habits were "clean as a whistle" why did you feel compelled to surrender your DEA license?
  9. by   babyNP.
    Quote from delawaremalenurse
    If your prescribing habits were "clean as a whistle" why did you feel compelled to surrender your DEA license?
    When you have intimidating people talk to you and threaten you- people can do irrational things. There's a very real phenomenon of people being pressured into false confessions for even things like murders (and it's more common than you think). It may seem unbelievable, but well-documented.

    I myself through a combination of childhood experiences and early bedside nursing experiences frequently experience the instinct to automatically assume that I've done something wrong and take the blame for anything negative that is surrounding me. As years have gone on I have been able to stamp down on acting upon this instinct, but it's still present. I can't imagine what it must have been like for the OP and my heart goes out to her.

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