By Nan Gallagher, Esquire
The New Jersey State Boards of Medicine and Dentistry have kicked it into high gear over the past 4 months with impromptu “surprise” (a/k/a ambush) visits of medical and dental practices. From my perspective, there appears to be an enhanced focus on surgical, dermatology, podiatry, and dental practices. The advice is, DO NOT let them in if they show what they have been showing: badges and a Demand to Inspect citing State Board regulations. Call our office first, and I or one of my partners will intervene. We will referee the inspection and ensure that no one is interviewed and no written questions are answered by staff or by you. What you say can and will be held against you on the spot or at a later date. These types of verbal or written questions are beyond the scope of a demand to inspect – this does not mean that they cannot subsequently send a subpoena to the practice.
Only let inspectors in right away who have Search Warrants. Helpful tip: those who bring Search Warrants 99.9% of the time come with “guns and dogs”. So, if no Search Warrant, no guns, and no dogs, they should not be allowed into your office without you first seeking legal advice.
The State Board’s inspectors do not bring Search Warrants. However, a recent trend demonstrates that State Board inspectors sometimes have been coupling up with criminal authorities (i.e., prosecutors’ office detectives) to raid practices with State Board Demands to Inspect and Search Warrants. In those circumstances, let them in and call us right away. My personal cell phone number is on my cards and email signatures: (973) 229-7876. Call it, and keep calling it, and text me “912” if necessary (which is my code for one notch more important than 911).
Any member of our annual or monthly legal service plans may request a free “Mock State Board Inspection”, where I come in, examine the premises, pull anything I see that does not comport with State and Federal regulations or guidelines out of circulation, and make various compliance recommendations. The inspection includes a vast array of things that Medicare, DEA, OSHA, State Boards and criminal authorities look for when they come to call. HIPAA analysis too, by specific request.
Respect The List!
Below is a list of things they are looking for (in no particular order):
- Expired medications, samples, creams, lotions, test tubes, OTC medications
- Unmarked multi-dose vials
- Non-compliant sharps containers and sharps disposal measures
- Improper location of sharps containers
- HIPAA violations
- OSHA violations
- Lack of employment policy & procedure manuals
- Stark & Antikickback (State & Federal) violations
- Compliant leases and subleases
- Lack of equipment maintenance logs
- Poor sterilization measures
- X-ray machine violations and protocols
- Unmarked alcohol / hydrogen peroxide / betadine dispensers or expired bottles of same
- Sharp items in drawers readily accessible to patients / patients’ reach
- Hours not posted
- Visible patient sign-in sheets (i.e., they should not be visible)
- Medical or biomedical items intermingled with foods (i.e., medications, syringes, injectables)
- Improper waste disposal