It's a nightmare scenario that most licensed professionals recognize is possible, but hope will never happen. You're busy building your career in Massachusetts as a licensed physician, dentist, educator, realtor, plumber, or other professional, working hard to live up to the trust that people place in you when suddenly you receive notice that a complaint has been filed against you alleging misconduct. That single complaint has the potential to derail everything you've worked for because the licensing board may choose to take action against you, possibly revoking your license to practice. The best way to avoid this tragedy is to hire an experienced Massachusetts license defense attorney at the first sign of trouble. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team have extensive experience with cases like yours, and they will work tirelessly on your behalf to save your license and your career.
Massachusetts' Go-To Professional License Defense Team: The Lento Law Firm
For a licensed professional in Massachusetts, there's no such thing as a "minor" complaint. Whether you're accused of violating a basic regulation established by your licensing board or committing an act of negligence, fraud, or sexual misconduct, the board has broad authority to suspend or revoke your license based only on a preponderance of the evidence. This is true whether you're a licensed physician, a therapist, a CPA, an engineer, or a plumber. If your profession requires a license to practice, your livelihood depends on that license--and without proper legal representation, all it takes is one complaint to put that livelihood in jeopardy.
The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team helps licensed professionals throughout the State of Massachusetts and across the country, and their years of experience with the disciplinary process can give you the advantage you need to defend against these allegations successfully. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
Massachusetts's Disciplinary Procedure for Licensed Professionals
Most licensed professions within the State of Massachusetts are overseen by the Division of Occupational Licensure (DOL), which in turn oversees dozens of registration boards for many licensed professions. If you're licensed as a professional in Massachusetts, and you are accused of wrongdoing, you will deal with the DOL at some level. The disciplinary process for licensees in Massachusetts is fairly similar across the professions and moves through a common set of stages as follows.
Almost every disciplinary action begins with a complaint filed with the DOL. Any member of the public may file a complaint against you, but complainants are typically connected to your profession in some way (e.g., patient, client, former client, colleague, insurance company).
Once a complaint is received, the DOL will appoint an investigator to fact-find and look for evidence to corroborate the complaint. During this phase, the investigator may interview the complainant and potential witnesses, collect relevant evidence, subpoena documents, and undertake other investigative actions. They may also attempt to conduct an in-person visit with you. Please note that the investigator's job is to look for evidence against you, and anything you say could be used as evidence--so you have the right to decline to talk to the investigator without an attorney present.
When the investigator is finished, they will present their evidence to the board. If the inquiry finds insufficient evidence of wrongdoing, the complaint will likely be dismissed. However, if enough evidence is discovered, the case moves forward.
Quite often, the board will offer to negotiate a consent agreement in lieu of calling a formal hearing. This is a legally binding legal agreement in which you voluntarily agree to the board's recommended disciplinary actions. Although it can be helpful in avoiding a formal hearing, opting for this approach means that the disciplinary action is irrevocable and not open to appeal--so we don't recommend signing one without the involvement of your attorney. That said, if disciplinary action is likely or unavoidable, a consent agreement may be your best resolution, and a good attorney can often negotiate for more lenient penalties and/or a pathway to having your license reinstated. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Team can evaluate your case to let you know whether a consent agreement is in your best interests.
If your case is not resolved by a consent agreement, the board will call for a formal hearing in front of a Hearings Officer. You'll be served with an Order to Show Cause why your license should remain in effect. At this proceeding, having a good attorney could very well make the difference between keeping your license and losing it. Once both sides have presented evidence, the Hearings Officer will make a ruling for and against you and send recommendations back to your licensing board regarding disciplinary actions. The board then makes a final determination about the fate of your license and your career. Disciplinary sanctions may range from a formal reprimand and fines to complete revocation of your license.
Why the Lento Law Firm is Crucial for Protecting Your Professional License in Massachusetts
Your professional license constitutes a legal agreement between you and the State of Massachusetts to practice your profession. However, if the board deems that agreement has been violated in any way, it has the right to issue discipline against your license based only on the preponderance of the evidence. You are not given any guarantee of presumed innocence because the DOL is more concerned with public safety than "fairness" toward licensees. This puts you at a distinct disadvantage.
Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team have the experience to advocate on your behalf and strive for a favorable outcome that allows you to keep your license. The Lento Law Firm can:
- Serve as your official legal counsel, representing you in all interactions with the administrative board examining the complaint against you.
- Review the complaint against you and propose a strong defense strategy, including gathering evidence, procuring witnesses, and more.
- Negotiate with the board directly to dismiss the complaint or impose less severe penalties.
- Negotiate the most favorable terms possible in a consent agreement, if applicable.
- Represent you vigorously in a formal hearing, if necessary.
Areas We Serve in Massachusetts
The Professional License Defense Team of Lento Law Firm provides representation to licensed professionals like doctors, teachers, contractors, therapists, and real estate agents all over Massachusetts. Most of our clients are understandably concentrated in the state's larger population centers, but our area of service covers every town and municipality. Some of the more common areas we serve include:
Serving as both the state capital and the state's largest city, Boston is home to about 675,000, but the surrounding metropolitan area includes close to 5 million people. Founded in 1630, Boston is one of the oldest and most historically significant cities in the United States, playing a pivotal role in the American Revolution. Today it boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene, as well as iconic landmarks like Fenway Park and Quincy Market. Boston is also home to well-known healthcare facilities and organizations such as Boston General, Boston Medical Center, Cambridge Health Alliance, and others.
Nestled among the rolling hills of central Massachusetts, Worcester is the second-largest city in the state, with a population of about 205,000. The city has been nicknamed "The Heart of the Commonwealth" due to its location near the geographic center of Massachusetts. Worcester is renowned for its diverse population, rich industrial history, and numerous educational institutions, including the prestigious Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and Clark University. Noted healthcare centers here include UMass Memorial and St. Vincent Hospital.
Located on the Merrimack River near the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border, Lowell has a long history as a textile manufacturing center, which earned its nickname "Spindle City." Now home to about 110,000, Lowell has since reinvented itself from an industrial center to one focused more on education, healthcare, and finance. Tufts Medicine is the largest healthcare organization in this area, overseeing the historic Lowell General Hospital and the Lowell General Hospital Saints Campus.
Home to about 100,000, New Bedford is a picturesque port town along the south coast of Massachusetts, once famed for its thriving whaling industry and serving as an important stop on the Underground Railroad. Today, it continues to serve as a primary hub for fishing, as well as manufacturing and healthcare. South coast Medical is the city's largest employer, overseeing numerous facilities across the area--including St. Luke's Hospital, the main hospital serving New Bedford.
What Allegations Could Jeopardize Your Professional License in Massachusetts?
In healthcare and other licensed professions, maintaining public safety and public trust are both critical. Therefore, the State of Massachusetts has set strict ethical and professional standards for all license holders. Any accusations that might put your license at risk are likely related to the breach of these standards. Some common examples include:
Fraudulent or dishonest conduct can include behaviors such as false advertising, misrepresenting your qualifications, or operating beyond the scope of your license. In the medical field, fraud might also involve:
- Overbilling patients or "upcoding" insurance claims
- Billing patients or insurers for services not performed
- Accepting kickbacks for referrals
- Falsifying patient diagnoses to obtain increased insurance reimbursements
Abuse or Gross Negligence
This category covers actions that may compromise a client or patient's safety, health, or well-being and often end with license revocation. Examples include:
- Physical abuse, including assault or sexual misconduct
- Emotional abuse, like threats or demeaning a patient
- Violating patient or client confidentiality (e.g., HIPAA regulations)
- Medical errors, including prescription mistakes
Sexual Misconduct/Inappropriate Relationships
Sexual misconduct might include unwelcome sexual advances, sexual harassment, or sexual assault toward patients, clients, or coworkers. In the healthcare professions, especially, engaging in a sexual or romantic relationship with a patient constitutes a significant ethical violation worthy of loss of license. Likewise, in the education sector, inappropriate sexual conduct with students can result in loss of licensure (and even criminal charges if the student was a minor).
Careless Handling of Medications
For medical professionals, the handling of prescription medications is highly regulated. If the board concludes that you have acted negligently or violated the rules, they can revoke your license. Examples may include prescribing medications with no legitimate medical justification, diverting medications for one's own purposes, prescribing suspicious quantities of addictive drugs (e.g., opioids), or prescribing medicines when you're not licensed to do so.
Inadequate Record Maintenance
If it is determined that you have kept inaccurate, incomplete, or fabricated records, your license could be at risk, particularly if those erroneous records might jeopardize patients' health or compromise someone's personal information.
Drug or alcohol abuse is grounds for license discipline in many professions, especially if you're accused of being under the influence while on duty. In some cases, the board may impose mandatory counseling or rehab as a condition to keep your license; in other cases, they may revoke your license completely.
Your license could be in jeopardy if the board becomes aware of certain criminal convictions, such as driving under the influence, morally objectionable crimes or offenses linked to your profession. Not every conviction makes you eligible for discipline--the list of offenses varies by profession--but in many cases, the board may impose disciplinary action if you fail to self-report a conviction, even one that doesn't disqualify you from practicing.
The Lento Law Firm: Protecting the Professional Licenses of Massachusetts Licensed Professionals
With a wealth of experience representing licensed professionals in Massachusetts and across the country, the Lento Law Firm is well-prepared to help you if you are licensed to practice in professions such as:
- Physician Assistant
- Mental health professional
- Physical therapist
- Real estate agent
- K-12 educator
- Insurance agent
- Other licensed professions
If you're a licensed professional in Massachusetts accused of misconduct, don't let a simple misunderstanding, mistake, or lapse in judgment derail everything you've worked for. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team are ready to fight on your behalf to keep your license intact and protect your career. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or contact us using our online form.