Proceed with caution if you get a subpoena as part of a healthcare fraud investigation

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Healthcare fraud investigations can lead to a subpoena.

If you watch news headlines, you’ve no doubt seen stories of physicians charged with and convicted of healthcare fraud. As federal investigations take place into fraud cases, physicians may find they receive a subpoena as part of a probe.

Never ignore a subpoena and proceed with caution if you receive one, advises attorney Sara Kropf on Physicians Practice. A subpoena is a legal document that orders a person or entity to either produce documents or appear for testimony and you must respond. If you receive a subpoena, Kropf, a trial lawyer for more than 15 years, recommends the following:

Read the subpoena closely as it will provide information about what agency wants to see your documents and when you must respond.

Do not delete any documents, including emails or texts, that may be related to the subpoena. Such action could be considered obstruction of justice.

Consider consulting an attorney. You also don't want to turn over documents that could get you into trouble if misinterpreted. A lawyer can help you find out more about the investigation and how to best respond.

“In many situations, there is nothing to fear from receiving a subpoena,” Kropf says, but you need to proceed carefully. For instance, the Office of Inspector General has begun scrutinizing house calls by primary care physicians and other types of home visits.  

You don’t want to end up in the same situation as a New York doctor, who is now a convicted felon after pleading guilty of accepting a bribe. Michele Martinho, who faces jail time and the loss of her medical license, is warning other doctors about the dangers of accepting bribes from drug and device representatives.