If you are a professional who is licensed to work in North Carolina, you understand the level of commitment and the amount of education, work, and energy that goes into qualifying for and maintaining a license. Whether you are a physician, dentist, accountant, plumber, or other licensed professional, your license is a badge that signifies that you have earned the public's trust. The right to hold that license can be threatened, however, if anyone—for example, a patient, coworker, or client—files a complaint against you with the state agency that governs your profession. Depending on the seriousness of the allegations, your career could be at risk. Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his experienced Professional License Defense Team as soon as you know that a complaint has been made against you.
The Professional License Defense Attorney You Need in North Carolina: The Lento Law Firm
Once you qualify for a professional license, it is easy to believe you will always have it. However, the reality is that you can only maintain the license if you continue to meet the criteria set by the state agency that oversees your profession. There is a wide range of professional code violations that can threaten licensure, and the nature of some violations is similar for many different professions. For example, while the job of a doctor is very different than that of a teacher, both professions have codes that prohibit sexual misconduct. Other commonly prohibited activities include negligence, fraud, or being convicted of a crime, such as driving while intoxicated.
Whatever your profession, as soon as you know there are allegations of professional misconduct against you, it is crucial to speak with a skilled attorney knowledgeable in this area of law. The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm has the experience you need to respond to the allegations of professional misconduct in North Carolina or anywhere else in the U.S. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
The Disciplinary Process for Licensed Professionals in North Carolina
North Carolina has numerous boards that oversee professionals working in a wide range of industries. For example, within the medical field, acupuncturists, chiropractors, speech pathologists, massage therapists, podiatrists, and doctors are under the jurisdiction of separate boards specific to their field. The exact procedures and guidelines each board employs vary, but they generally follow the process outlined below.
A complaint filed against you triggers the process that can take several months or even longer and may threaten your license. Many boards accept anonymous complaints. Anyone can file a complaint against you, but they are usually in one of these categories:
- other practitioners
- patients or clients
- insurers (usually in cases of suspected fraud)
- court clerks (i.e., reporting a recent criminal conviction to your licensing board)
In North Carolina, complaints against physicians, residents, physician assistants, anesthesiologist assistants, perfusionists, and polysomnographic techs are filed with the North Carolina Medical Board.
Upon receiving a complaint against you, the board reviews it to determine if it describes a possible violation of the board's professional code and confirms that the board has jurisdiction over you. For example, complaints about fee disputes or rude behavior will probably not be acted on. If the complaint passes the initial hurdles, the board assigns an individual or a committee to launch an investigation; the investigator will advise you that a complaint has been filed against you but may or may not send you a copy of the complaint, depending on which board you are governed by.
If the investigation proceeds, the investigator will take actions that may include reviewing professional records and interviewing you and others at your workplace. Upon completing the investigation, the investigator files a report on their findings and recommendations with the board, which reviews it and determines whether to close the complaint or pursue disciplinary action. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his experienced Professional License Defense Team can advise you on how best to respond to the investigator.
Consent Order and Other Possible Actions
When the investigator finds grounds for a complaint against you, for example, if you are a doctor or other healthcare professional governed by the North Carolina Medical Board, the board can take private action, such as sending you a Private Letter of Concern, which is not a disciplinary action. In most cases, though, the board will take public action, such as a Public Letter of Concern or a Consent Order, which is a negotiated agreement between you and the board. Disciplinary actions captured in either document may include probation for you or suspension, revocation, or annulment of your license. If you do not accept the public action, there will be a hearing. For the best course to take when negotiating a consent agreement with the licensing board, contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his experienced Professional License Defense Team.
The licensing board will hold a hearing if an agreement on a Consent Order cannot be reached. The hearing process is much like that of a trial: The licensing board presents the evidence against you, and you have the opportunity to respond. The board then makes its determination about any discipline against you. A Consent Order may be part of the outcome of the hearing.
Why You Need the Lento Law Firm to Help Protect Your License
Your professional license represents your legal right to do your job. A complaint filed against you is a legal threat to that right, and your best response includes having an experienced, knowledgeable Professional Defense Attorney represent you in all matters relevant to the complaint. Like any bureaucracy, the administrative boards in North Carolina can be daunting to navigate, particularly when your professional life is at stake. Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team have the experience needed to offer important assistance, including in the following ways:
- Review the complaint against you and recommend a strategy for a strong defense, which will include evidence collection, witness procurement, and more.
- As your legal counsel, represent you in all interactions with the administrative board reviewing the complaint against you.
- Draft a compelling written response to the complaint to improve your chances of having the case closed.
- Negotiate with the board for them to dismiss the complaint or impose less severe penalties.
- Negotiate the most favorable terms possible in a consent agreement.
- Represent you in a formal hearing before the board, if necessary.
Areas We Serve in North Carolina
The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm represents doctors, teachers, dentists, contractors, therapists, and other licensed workers throughout North Carolina. Many of our clients live and work in the more densely populated areas of the state, including the following districts.
North Carolina's most populous city sits along the state's border with South Carolina. The fast-growing Charlotte metropolitan area has more than 2.66 million citizens. While Charlotte is the second-largest banking center in the U.S., its number one employer is Atrium Health, a hospital network with more than 70,000 employees. Novant Health, a network of physician clinics, outpatient centers, and hospitals, is also among the top ten employers in the city.
Raleigh and Durham
These two cities in the Piedmont region of North Carolina form the Research Triangle along with nearby Chapel Hill; major research institutions North Carolina State University, Duke University, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are in The Triangle. The Raleigh–Durham–Cary statistical area has a population of more than two million. Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina. The 919-bed WakeMed Health and Hospitals is the largest healthcare facility in the area.
The Winston-Salem metropolitan area has nearly 680,000 residents, with more than 249,000 people making their homes in the city of Winston-Salem. The area's largest employer is Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, an academic medical center. Its entities include Wake Forest School of Medicine, Wake Forest Innovations, and Brenner Children's Hospital.
With nearly 300,000 residents, Greensboro is the third-most populous city in North Carolina, and the Greensboro–High Point metropolitan area has 724,000 residents. Greensboro is in north central North Carolina, less than sixty miles west of Durham. The city's second-largest employer, Cone Health, includes Cone Health Women's Hospital and Cone Health Behavioral Health Hospital.
Fayetteville is best known as the home of U.S. Army Fort Bragg, one of the largest military installations in the world. The city of more than 208,000 residents is on the Cape Fear River in the western part of the Coastal Plain region. The Cape Fear Valley Health System has 7,000 employees and offers primary care and specialist services. At Fort Bragg, the 44th Medical Brigade services the community at the base.
This small port city of more than 115,000 sits on North Carolina's southeastern Atlantic coast; the Cape Fear-Wilmington metropolitan area has a population of more than 301,000. Adjacent to the Research Triangle Park in nearby Durham, Wilmington is part of North Carolina's Research Coast. New Hanover Health Network is the top employer in the city, and it offers healthcare services from primary care to specialties like maxillofacial surgery.
Offenses or Allegations that Might Jeopardize Your Professional License
With public trust such a critical component of healthcare and other licensed professions, state licensing boards uphold high ethical and professional standards for their licensees. Examples of accusations that could trigger disciplinary action include the following:
For those working in the healthcare field, fraud could include any of these actions:
- overbilling patients or upcoding insurance providers (using a code for a more expensive service than the one provided)
- billing patients or insurance providers for services you did not render
- collecting kickbacks for referrals
- falsifying patient diagnoses to collect a higher reimbursement from insurance providers
- providing services outside the scope of your license
Abuse, Gross Negligence
Examples of actions that could jeopardize a patient or their safety, health, or well-being could include:
- physical abuse, such as hitting or sexual assault
- emotional abuse, such as threatening or berating a patient
- violating patient confidentiality
- medical errors, including prescription errors
Sexual Misconduct/Inappropriate Relationships
Sexual or romantic relationships with patients are among the most serious ethical violations for healthcare professionals. Unwanted sexual advances toward patients or coworkers, sexual harassment, and sexual assault are other forms of sexual misconduct.
Inappropriate Handling of Medications
You could face severe penalties if the administrative board finds you guilty of prescribing or dispensing medications irresponsibly or outside the scope of your license, or if the board finds you have been incorrectly tracking medications or stealing medications for your personal use.
Inaccurate Record Keeping
If you are found guilty of maintaining sloppy or incomplete patient records, or if records contain falsified information, your license may be at risk.
You may lose your license if you are found guilty of abusing drugs or alcohol, a particularly serious offense.
If the administrative board receives information that you have a criminal conviction for driving while intoxicated, crimes of moral turpitude, or crimes related to your profession, your license could be at risk.
The Lento Law Firm: Professional License Defense for Licensed Professionals in North Carolina
The Lento Law Firm has extensive experience representing the interests of licensed professionals in North Carolina and across the country. If you are licensed to practice in any of these roles, Attorney Joseph Lento and his Professional License Defense Team can assist you.
- physician assistant
- mental health professional
- physical therapist
- real estate agent
- K-12 educator
- insurance agent
- other licensed professions
Don't let allegations of professional misconduct create a potentially devastating threat to your professional license and your career. An attorney who has experience in the system you are now caught up in can help you make the best choices as you proceed. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team can provide the exceptional representation you deserve. Call (888) 535-3686 or go online to schedule a review of your case and start the process to restore your good name and protect your professional license.