New Jersey Audiologist License Defense
As a licensed audiologist in New Jersey, your livelihood hinges on your license to practice. Obtaining that license was no easy feat, either: you had to complete eight years of school, sit for exams, and fulfill hundreds of hours of practice. In a manner of speaking, your audiologist license is your most valuable possession.
And yet, all it may take is a single complaint to put your license and career at risk. The New Jersey Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Committee takes all allegations of misconduct seriously, and it has the authority to investigate and discipline audiologists who are accused of violating their standards of conduct. If you are facing an investigation, it is essential that you seek out legal representation right away to protect your interests.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a New Jersey professional license defense attorney with a long track record of success with disciplinary cases. He and his Professional License Defense Team will work to get you the most favorable possible outcome. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation.
What Allegations Could Endanger Your Audiologist License?
New Jersey is dedicated to patient safety and holds its licensed health professionals to high standards of ethical and professional excellence. Most accusations that could result in having an audiologist's license revoked will have something to do with violating these standards. Among the most common examples:
- Sexual misconduct. It's a severe ethical breach for any medical professional to engage in a romantic/sexual relationship with a patient under their care. Likewise, allegations of sexual harassment or unwanted sexual advances toward employees or patients could lead to loss of license.
- Gross negligence and/or incompetence. If you are accused of making mistakes that put patients in jeopardy or risk their health, your audiology license could be on the line.
- Fraudulent or deceptive practices. Participating in fraudulent activities, such as manipulating records, misinforming customers through false advertising and exaggerations of qualifications and credentials, billing for services that were not provided, or charging patients/insurers higher than the indicated rate could lead to serious consequences.
- Substance abuse. Abusing drugs and/or alcohol can negatively affect your judgment and competence in treating patients. Being accused of such could result in either mandatory treatment or a full revocation of your license.
- Criminal convictions. Being convicted of certain crimes may result in disciplinary action by the Board, especially crimes of moral turpitude or crimes directly related to your profession. You can also face disciplinary action for failing to self-report a criminal conviction of any kind.
Overview of New Jersey's License Disciplinary Process
In most cases, disciplinary actions against New Jersey licensed professionals are triggered by some sort of formal complaint alleging wrongdoing. While anyone can potentially file a complaint against you, most complaints against audiologists originate from patients, former patients, colleagues, insurance companies, etc. Once the Board has received a complaint against you, the process goes through the following stages.
Request for Response
Upon receiving a complaint, the Board starts by sending you an official notification of the complaint and requests you to respond in writing. This is your first chance to present evidence that supports your side of the story and clarifies any misconceptions. A compelling response backed by corroborating evidence refuting the complaint can often cause the matter to be dropped in its early stages. A good license defense attorney can help you draft a convincing initial response.
The next step in the process is for the Board to appoint a Preliminary Evaluation Committee (PEC) to investigate the complaint. The PEC, in turn, will assign an investigator to your case to look for evidence that substantiates the accusation. This process could include interviewing the complainant and any witnesses, issuing document subpoenas, and asking you to give testimony under oath.
If the PEC finds sufficient evidence to support the complaint, the Board may offer you a consent order in lieu of calling a formal hearing. A consent order is a formal agreement between you and the Board in which you voluntarily submit to the recommended disciplinary actions, which could include fines, suspension of your license, or practicing with certain restrictions. If you can present compelling evidence that refutes the charge made against you, your attorney may suggest not signing a consent order. However, if disciplinary action seems unavoidable, it may be the best possible outcome. In many cases, a good attorney can negotiate terms that allow you to keep your license, or at least provide a path toward reinstatement.
If you do not agree to the terms of a consent order or if the Board decides to take more serious disciplinary action, the case will be submitted for a formal hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), for which you may appear with an attorney, and during which both sides will present arguments. At the conclusion of the hearing, the ALJ will rule for or against you and will present recommendations to the Board as to any disciplinary actions--up to and including revoking your license.
Why Should I Hire a License Defense Attorney?
When your audiologist license is being looked into, it can be tempting to assume that you can resolve the situation just by explaining things to the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Committee. In reality, though, the Committee (i.e., the Board) is more committed to protecting the public than defending its licensees. If their investigation reveals there's a more than 50 percent chance you committed an offense, they have the right to impose discipline, potentially including revocation of licensure. This puts you at a noted disadvantage because you effectively have no guaranteed presumption of innocence.
An experienced license defense attorney gives you a much better chance of turning things around in your favor. They will advise you on the full range of legal options at every stage of the process, help counter any evidence or arguments made against you, and generally provide invaluable guidance for navigating a highly complex system. Your attorney can also negotiate at multiple points with the board either to have the complaint dropped or to agree to minimal penalties, greatly improving your chances of keeping your license.
A good license defense attorney can make all the difference when it comes to protecting your career and reputation. If you are a New Jersey licensed audiologist facing allegations of misconduct, Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team can help you achieve a more favorable outcome. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.