Every year thousands of health care providers from all industries become targets of government investigators. Our firm, Norman Spencer Law Group has been defending physicians, PTs, pharmacies, medical groups, nursing agencies, home health agencies, durable medical equipment suppliers, laboratories, therapists, billing services, and many others for years.
We provide advice for the healthcare professionals whose employees come in contact with government investigators. If you train your employees to follow them and remember to follow them yourself, the outcome of your case will be much better. Contact us as soon as you believe you may be under a government investigation.
What to Do When a Government Investigators Contact You or Your Employees
There are many ways you may find out about a government investigation. You can get a call or a visit, usually without any prior notice. The investigators may visit you or your employees at home or work and start asking questions.
This is a perilous situation and you must be prepared for it. We recommend that you provide cooperation, however, it is even more important to protect your rights and the rights of your employees. At this time you do not know what is really happening and you should assume that there is an active investigation is in progress. Your job is to minimize any potential liability. The best way to do this is to contact an experienced defense lawyer such as the one you will find at Norman Spencer Law Group.
Train Your Employees
If you have employees, it is important that you train them to deal with government agents. Of course, the level and the scope of this training depending on the size of the practice of the business. Larger entities should have a Government Investigation Procedure Policy. If you are a smaller business, something less formal should be enough. Norman Spencer Law Group can assist you in both drafting the Investigation Policy and educating your employees on-site.
Avoid Obstructing Government Investigators
This is very important. You should not do anything the government could see as obstructing their investigation. In larger entities, employees should be trained to report any government interactions to a designated person. This could be the compliance officer or another supervisor. In smaller settings, the employee should report to the owner, the manager or the supervisor. Please remember that you are not allowed to tell your employees not to talk to investigators. This may be considered obstructing justice or witness tampering.
Follow These Basic Rules
To make it easier, these are the basic rules we recommend employees to follow (this also applies to anyone contacted by government investigators):
- Train employees to be polite and cooperative. Tell them that they are not required to speak with investigators. They are not required to make any statements without consulting with a lawyer first. If they do volunteer information, they can stop speaking at any time. Of course, this applies to you, too!
- You should also tell them that if they refuse to speak with the investigators, the government could potentially subpoena them. However, they would still have the right and the opportunity to seek legal advice. The Fifth Amendment protection will be a useful tool at that time!
Always Speak to a Lawyer First
No one should ever lie to government investigators. That would make the situation worse and could subject you and your employees to criminal prosecution. Always stress to your employees that they have a right to a lawyer at all times and that should always consider speaking to a lawyer before agreeing to an interview – for their own protection.
Of course, legal services cost money and may be expensive. Many employees may not be able to afford an attorney or may not be necessarily willing to hire one even if they could afford it. Some employers may even pay for the legal services in this situation. The lawyer, of course, will only represent the employee, to avoid any conflict of interests.
The point to take away is this: anyone who agrees to be interviewed by government agents before speaking to a lawyer only has himself or herself to blame for the consequences.
Obtain Information From the Government Investigators
Always ask the agent for basic information such as the one that appears on a business card. You want to know their names, titles, the agency they work for, and the contact information. Ask them for the reason for wanting to speak with the employee (or you). Don’t expect them to share anything detailed, but this could provide some useful information for the attorney when you reach out to one.
Call the Compliance Officer or Lawyer Immediately
Instruct your employees to immediately call the compliance officer (or whoever is the designated person for this in the business) and an attorney. Make sure that the records and documents do not get destroyed when you know there is an investigation. Following these rules can save you and your employees a lot of problems down the road.
Remember to always be polite to the agents, take their business cards, and tell them that your lawyer will call them shortly. Train your employees to follow these steps. Then call our office to speak with one of our healthcare defense lawyers.
How Norman Spencer Law Group Can Help You
We are a team of experienced criminal defense attorneys who have handled hundreds upon hundreds of healthcare fraud and compliance investigations. No matter where you are, we can help you as we helped countless others over the years.
If you retain us early in the case, hopefully before you volunteer any information, we can work quickly to protect you and mitigate any potential liability you and your business may have.
It only takes one phone call to speak with a lawyer and get the best service you can get.