Physician Internist Preserves License After Facing Medicare Billing Issues
Acting on fraud allegations by investigating federal agents, the medical licensing Board of a Midwestern state charged a physician internal medicine specialist with medical service upcoding, billing for services not performed, and other medical billing irregularities. Federal agents had already secured the physician's billing records and interviewed the practice's billing manager, tending to give credence to the charges. While the federal agents had not yet criminally charged the physician, the state medical board notified the physician that it required the physician to respond to the fraud allegations. Fearful of the state licensing proceeding and overwhelmed with medical practice and office management, the physician failed initially to respond. The state licensing officials issued a second notice of charges against the physician's license for failing to respond to an investigation request. The physician then retained the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team. The Team promptly answered the charges on the client physician's behalf, providing a reasonable explanation for the physician's delay in responding. The Team also promptly retained a forensic accounting consultant to obtain and analyze electronic copies of the billing records. The analysis resulted in a written and documented expert report providing a reasonable interpretation of the records, tending to confirm the physician's innocence. The Lento Law Firm Team presented the forensic report and other documentation and argumentation to the investigating state officials. The Team's presentation resulted in a recommendation to dismiss the licensing proceeding. Federal agents did not subsequently charge the client physician, who continued in medical practice with a new billing manager.
Osteopathic Physician Successfully Defends Licensing Board's Abuse and Neglect Charges
Acting on two patient complaints, the medical licensing Board of a West Coast state served a request for investigation on an osteopathic physician, alleging patient abuse and gross neglect. The state licensing board's notice identified the two complaining patients, demanding that the osteopathic physician produce their patient medical files and submit to an investigator interview regarding the patients' treatment. The state board's notice did not provide any information regarding the nature, dates, or duration of the alleged abuse or neglect. Accepting the recommendation of a respected colleague, the osteopathic physician promptly retained the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team to answer the state board's notice. The Lento Law Firm Team promptly notified the state board, requesting disclosure and specification of the abuse and neglect charges before response or interview, as state administrative rules required. The state licensing officials then disclosed the two patients' written complaints and the state investigator's notes of those patients' interviews. The Lento Law Firm professionals then helped the client osteopathic physician produce the patient's medical files and prepare for the investigator's interview, which the Lento Law Firm Team attended. Following a successful interview, the state licensing board notified the client osteopathic physician that it was dismissing the complaints without further proceeding, which was a great outcome for the client osteopath. The Lento Law Firm Team also helped the client osteopath notify the osteopath's liability insurer to ensure an appropriate defense of any liability claims.
Surgeon Prevails in State Licensing Board Hearing Over Intoxication Charges
Acting on patient complaints and staff information, the medical licensing Board of a populous Southeast state notified a prominent surgeon with a high-volume surgical practice in a metropolitan area of professional misconduct charges. The charges alleged that the surgeon had performed several surgical exams and consults, and one or more surgeries, while under the influence of intoxicating drugs or alcohol. The charges indicated that if established, the surgeon faced immediate suspension of the medical license, likely for a prolonged period during substance abuse treatment and assessment. The charges further notified the surgeon to attend a conference and evaluation to determine whether the Board should suspend the surgeon's license pending the upcoming hearing. The surgeon immediately retained the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team to help the surgeon prepare for the license-suspension conference and formal hearing. The Lento Law Firm's professionals helped the surgeon acquire medical review, diagnosis, report, and documentation of the surgeon's neurological condition that could have made the surgeon appear intoxicated even though under the full control of faculties. The surgeon had disclosed the condition only to the surgeon's practice partners, not to hospital personnel or patients, out of privacy concerns. The Lento Law Firm Team attended the conference with the surgeon and documentation, along with corroborating statements from practice partners. The Board did not suspend the surgeon's license on an interim basis. At the board hearing, the charging official took the surgeon's side, resulting in a perfunctory hearing confirming that the dismissal of the charges was appropriate. The Team also helped the surgeon develop a hospital staff and patient communication allaying future concerns.
Dentist Successfully Fights Licensing Investigation Involving Domestic Violence Allegations
A dental board in a Northeast state notified a dentist in a suburban solo practice to respond to the Board over domestic violence allegations appearing in a civil court separation and child custody dispute. The licensing Board's notice indicated that the allegations gave the Board reasonable cause to believe that the dentist could be a threat to the safety and well-being of patients and dental staff. The dentist learned from the investigating official that an anonymous source had notified the Board of the allegations, appearing only in a civil family court filing, not as criminal charges. The dentist retained the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team to respond to the state licensing board's charges. The Lento Law Firm Team obtained the separated spouse's statement acknowledging that the family court allegations were mistaken and exaggerated, a misunderstanding with the self-help legal center that had assisted the spouse in filing the family court papers. The Lento Law Firm's professionals helped the client dentist negotiate a conciliation agreement with the separated spouse and presented the spouse's statement and agreement to state licensing officials. The state licensing investigator agreed to an informal resolution conference that the Lento Law Firm Team and client dentist attended. The conference resulted in the investigator's recommendation that the Board dismiss the charges. The dentist had no impact on the dental practice, the matter having remained confidential.
Audiologist Avoids License Complaint After Private Mediation of Sexual Harassment Complaint
An audiologist in a specialty group practicing serving several healthcare facilities in metropolitan and suburban regions of a South Central state received an attorney's notice of a sexual harassment claim. The audiologist's former girlfriend, who was also a patient of the audiologist, asserted the confidential claim. The attorney's notice threatened to contact the state medical licensing board seeking the revocation of the audiologist's license. The claim alleged that the audiologist had conditioned the provision of audiology services on the former girlfriend's submitting to the audiologist's sexual advances in violation of professional codes and licensing standards. The claim demanded the return of personal property the former girlfriend had allegedly left at the audiologist's home and compensation for the former girlfriend's mental and emotional distress and suffering. The audiologist retained the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team to answer the claim. The Team's staff helped the audiologist compile a chronology of the professional acquaintance and romantic relationship, supported by recovered emails, texts, cards, notes, photos, and videos. The Team then developed with the audiologist a communication and mediation strategy with the goal of resolving the claim early without public disclosure, practice group impact, or license complaint. The Team negotiated the joint retention of a skilled mediator who arranged an exchange of information and documentation and conducted a joint negotiation session ,which the parties and attorneys attended. The Team's chronology and documentation showed the relationship's consensual nature and that the relationship arose well before the first audiology services. The claim was resolved amicably at the conclusion of mediation with a non-disclosure agreement.
Chiropractor Prevails Against Unauthorized Practice Charges After Formal Hearing
The chiropractic licensing board of a Mountain West state notified a chiropractor in a small-town solo practice of a complaint against the chiropractor's license. The complaint, initiated by orthopedic medicine and physical therapy practice groups serving the same small town and nearby regions, alleged that the chiropractor was providing services outside the scope of the chiropractor's license. The complaint further alleged that the chiropractor was authorizing and compensating non-licensed staff to provide chiropractic and medical services. The complaint threatened to revoke the chiropractor's license and close the practice if the chiropractor did not appear for a formal hearing scheduled within two weeks. The chiropractor promptly retained the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team on the recommendation of the chiropractor's liability insurer. The Firm promptly obtained an adjournment of the formal hearing pending investigation and preparation for the hearing. The Firm's also invoked the licensing Board's rules for a pre-hearing conference at which the Lento Law Firm Team was able to obtain a detailed specification of the charges and the board investigation's statements from and communications with the complaining parties. Using that evidence, the Firm helped the audiologist prepare contrary record and testimonial evidence of the chiropractor's lawful and compliant professional practices. The Firm also prepared and submitted to the hearing officials a pre-hearing brief with the organized evidence, sharing those materials with an attorney representing the two complaining practice groups. The hearing officials agreed at the hearing's conclusion that the complainants were engaged in anti-competitive practices and had no basis other than economic interest for their frivolous complaint. The chiropractor avoided any finding of wrongdoing.
Optometrist Gets License Reinstated After Emergency Appeal
The professional licensing division of the health department of a Midwest state notified an optometrist with a mature and profitable practice of a license violation. The notice alleged that the optometrist had violated state licensing regulations requiring licensees to report felony arrests and convictions involving violence or acts of moral turpitude. The notice referred to the optometrist's alleged arrest for drunk driving, fleeing the scene of a motor vehicle accident, and resisting and evading police. The notice further indicated an automatic suspension of the optometrist's license for at least thirty days and closure of the optometrist's practice for that same period with notice to all patients of the practice if the failure to report allegations were true. The notice demanded a written response within ten days with supporting documentation, on which the disciplinary officials would act. The optometrist promptly retained the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team. The Team answered the notice denying the allegations as false and claiming a formal hearing, pre-hearing conference, and exchange of information as state administrative rules required. When the licensing division instead immediately imposed the automatic license suspension, the Team took an emergency appeal to the assigned administrative law judge, who reversed the suspension and ordered that the division provide the required protective procedures. The licensing division then dismissed the notice and proceeding after the optometrist and the Lento Law Firm Team submitted information and evidence showing that the alleged charges involved only a misdemeanor arrest that did not involve violence or moral turpitude and on which no prosecutor authorized charges.
Pharmacist Prevails on Charges of Improper Medication Dispensing
The pharmacy licensing board of a North Central state issued charges against a pharmacist serving at a regional grocery store chain. The charges alleged that the pharmacist had inappropriately dispensed medications without a prescription, negligently dispensed medications inconsistent with prescriptions, and failed to keep accurate records of medications dispensed. The charges arose from a routine audit of the pharmacist's records after the licensing Board chose the pharmacist for audit at random. The pharmacist retained the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team. The Team employed a forensic consultant and pharmacy expert to work with the pharmacist on an independent analysis of pharmacy records. The Team simultaneously communicated with the licensing Board's assigned assistant attorney general. Those communications revealed that the Board tended to issue such broad charges when its auditor lacked the time, resources, or expertise for a thorough analysis and that the auditor did not have a specification of the charges. The licensing Board approved the assistant attorney general's recommendation to dismiss the complaint after the Team presented the forensic report confirming the accuracy of records and lawfulness of dispensing.
Veterinarian Reverses License Restrictions After Drunk Driving Arrest
A veterinary licensing board in a Central Plains state issued a notice of charges against a veterinarian serving farms and ranches over a wide area. The notice of charges alleged a drunk driving conviction making the veterinarian unreasonably dangerous in the operation of the veterinary service vehicle. The veterinarian answered the charges without legal representation. The licensing official responded by notifying the veterinarian of the immediate restriction of the veterinarian's license not to operate a veterinary service vehicle or other transportation in the practice of veterinary medicine until after completing six months of substance abuse counseling and assessment. The veterinarian retained the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team to challenge the restriction because the veterinarian had no driver or other way to practice veterinary medicine without operating the service vehicle. The Firm appealed the licensing official's decision, requesting an appeal hearing. The Firm also obtained documentation showing that the drunk driving charges resulted not in conviction but in alternative disposition with subsequent dismissal and no license suspension or restriction. The documentation further showed that the veterinarian had already completed a substance abuse assessment that determined the veterinarian was not a habitual or abusing imbiber of intoxicants. The Firm's defense presentation at the appeal hearing resulted in a reversal of the license restriction and dismissal of the licensing proceeding.