As a licensed hearing aid specialist in New Jersey (also known as a hearing aid dispenser), you have built a rewarding career based on helping people hear better. At the same time, you are expected to follow strict protocols in treating patients and to abide by the highest standards of ethical and professional excellence. So what happens when those standards are called into question? What happens when someone accuses you of wrongdoing?
Unfortunately, this happens to licensed professionals like yourself quite often. All it takes is a single complaint filed with the New Jersey Hearing Aid Dispensers Examining Committee to trigger an invasive investigation, one that could ultimately result in having your license suspended or revoked. Without a license, you have no career.
The good news is that you do not have to face this difficult situation alone. You can turn to an experienced license defense attorney who is well-versed in the state's disciplinary process for licensed hearing aid specialists. With a knowledgeable lawyer fighting for your rights, you stand the best chance of resolving this issue and getting back to business as usual. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a distinguished New Jersey professional license defense lawyer with an impressive history of success in disciplinary matters. He and his Professional License Defense Team are committed to achieving the best possible outcome for you. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation.
What Allegations Could Endanger Your Career as a Hearing Aid Specialist?
When a hearing aid specialist's license is revoked, it's typically because they are believed to have violated state regulations or breached the public trust by disregarding ethical and professional standards specified by the state. Common examples include:
- Gross incompetence/negligence (e.g., improperly configured hearing aids or other issues that put patients at risk).
- Fraud (e.g., overbilling patients or insurance, false advertising, etc.).
- Unprofessional/unethical conduct toward patients or colleagues.
- Substance abuse/addiction.
- Certain criminal convictions (e.g., crimes related to your practice or crimes of moral turpitude).
- Performing services outside the scope of your license.
- Permitting unlicensed employees to perform functions that require a license.
New Jersey's License Disciplinary Process
Generally, disciplinary actions against New Jersey licensed professionals are caused by an official complaint alleging wrongful acts or violations. Although anyone can theoretically file a report against you, the majority of complaints toward hearing aid specialists come from former and current patients, insurance companies, colleagues, etc. After receiving a complaint against you, the Board's process is broken down into distinct stages.
Request for Response
First, Hearing Aid Dispensers Examining Committee will send you official notification of the complaint and ask you to submit a response in writing, giving your side of what happened accompanied by any corroborating evidence you can produce. Don't underestimate the importance of this step: if you present your case well, the matter may be dropped without any further action. A good license defense attorney can help you draft a compelling initial response.
The Board will next appoint a Preliminary Evaluation Committee (PEC) to conduct an investigation into the complaint. This group, in turn, will delegate an investigator to research any information that verifies the grievance. The investigative process could include interviewing the complainant and any witnesses, requesting paperwork subpoenas, and even requiring you to answer questions under oath.
Should the PEC investigation uncover ample evidence to back up the complaint, the Board may present you with an option of signing a consent order in lieu of calling a formal hearing. A consent order is essentially a binding agreement between yourself and the Board, wherein you willingly accept disciplinary actions such as fines or license suspension, or perhaps agree on specific conditions for your practice. This isn't always the best outcome (always consult an attorney before signing a consent order), but if disciplinary action is inevitable, consent orders can often be negotiated to include lighter penalties and/or a path to reinstatement of your hearing aid specialist license.
If you reject the consent order or if one is not offered, the Board may then move forward with a formal hearing. This is considered a "trial-like" process that takes place before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) involving testimony and submission of evidence from both sides. It's in your best interest to have an attorney represent you at the hearing. After hearing both sides, the ALJ will issue a ruling and present recommendations to the Board as to appropriate disciplinary actions (up to and including revoking your license).
Why Do I Need a License Defense Attorney?
If you're accused of wrongdoing and the Board is investigating, you must understand that the Board's first priority is to protect the public, not its licensees. There is no guaranteed presumption of innocence. The Board will thoroughly investigate the complaint, and if their investigation convinces them that you are at least 51 percent likely to have committed the offense, they have the right to penalize you and possibly even strip you of your license. You're effectively at a disadvantage from the moment the complaint is filed.
An experienced license defense attorney can help put you on a fair footing with the Board. Your attorney can help devise a clear strategy to defend against the allegations, draft a compelling written response, gather supporting evidence and witnesses, and negotiate with the board to resolve the matter with either lenient penalties or a full dismissal of the complaint. In many cases, a good attorney can get you a resolution before the matter even reaches the hearing stage. Simply put--your chances of emerging with your license intact are much greater with the right attorney in your corner.
Don't risk your career as a hearing aid specialist by going up against the Board alone. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team understand what's at stake for you, and they know how to negotiate the best possible outcome for your case. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.