A warranted concern

Published: 2011-03-16 15:17:32
Author: Deborah Green | ChiroEco | March 2011

Q: Two FBI agents recently showed up at a fellow chiropractor's practice with a search warrant, and pandemonium ensued. The receptionist gave them access to everything and then left the office, never to be seen again. Is there a procedure I can institute in my office so my employees know what to do in such a situation and to prevent chaos from occurring?

I am fortunate to share space with Carl H. Lida, Esq. a past president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and a Martindale-Hubbell AV rated lawyer with over 35 years of experience. (Carl’s telephone number is 800-871-5001 and his e-mail address is chlida@aol.com.) I ran your question past him and the following is Carl’s advice.

A: Be proactive. Your receptionist should know to contact you immediately if agents show up at your office. Your staff should also know that they have no authority to permit anyone to review the practice’s records — ever.

Although you shouldn't instruct your staff not to speak to agents, they should know they are not legally required to do so. People tend to panic under such circumstances and so they should know their rights in advance. Make sure, however, that they know they may speak to the agents without any fear of retaliation.

Once the agents have identified themselves, make sure they are who they claim to be. It has happened that insurance company employees have misrepresented their status.

Politely ask to see proof, such as badges, and then look at each badge carefully. Make sure the badge is in fact from the agency that the agents claim to be from.

If you still have doubts, call the agency yourself and ask them to verify. If they aren’t, they probably will have cleared out by then.

Once you have established that the agents are who they say they are, have your receptionist call your criminal attorney and tell him or her what is going on. Have the name and number of a criminal attorney who deals with healthcare issues in advance.

Like insurance, you may never need it, but what a relief if you have it. 

In cases where search warrants are for large practices employing 25 or more people, grossing in excess of $5 million per annum, and that are incorporated, counsel may be necessary for both the corporation and for individual members of your staff.

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