As a licensed nursing home administrator in New Jersey, you've built a career out of helping the elderly and/or the disabled. You've invested countless hours in study and field practice to obtain your license--including a college degree, grueling exams, and even a special ethics course to qualify for licensure in the State of New Jersey. Your license has been hard-won, and you now have a rewarding career.
Unfortunately, sometimes, despite our best intentions, problems can arise. A misunderstanding, a lapse in judgment, a complaint filed by an unhappy family...and suddenly, you find your nursing home administrator license at risk. Everything you've worked for, your entire career, could be derailed by a single allegation of wrongdoing. The New Jersey Nursing Home Administrators Licensing Board holds its licensees to high standards of ethical and professional excellence. They investigate all complaints thoroughly, and if they believe the evidence points to wrongdoing, they have the authority to suspend or revoke your license.
That's why, if you find yourself in this situation, it is essential to have an experienced New Jersey license defense attorney to protect your interests. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has a lengthy background with disciplinary cases similar to yours, and he, along with his team, will strive hard to assist you in achieving a favorable resolution for your case and keeping your license intact. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
What Allegations Could Put Your Nursing Home Administrator License in Jeopardy?
Most complaints that might put your New Jersey nursing home administrator license at risk have something to do with violations of patient/resident safety, ethical violations, and/or general breaches of public trust. Some of the more common allegations include:
- Immediate Jeopardy (IJ) citations. If an inspection of your facility shows indications of safety violations that could put residents at risk, the inspector will issue an IJ citation against your nursing facility, which is a serious breach. Even if you fix the problems immediately, the Board may still investigate you and possibly discipline you for your role in the IJ citation.
- Fraud. Examples of fraudulent practices include upcoding insurance claims, inflating fees, billing for unnecessary services or services not performed, deceptive advertising campaigns, and illegal kickback schemes.
- Substance abuse/addiction. Substance abuse is an incredibly serious allegation that can severely threaten your credibility and effectiveness as a nursing home administrator. Not only will it call into question your competency, but if you're accused of being under the influence while on the job, your license could be in immediate danger.
- Sexual misconduct. Examples include making unwanted sexual advances towards patients, personnel, or colleagues, sexual assault, unethical romantic relationships with patients, etc.
- Criminal convictions. Certain criminal convictions could jeopardize your nursing home administrator license, especially offenses considered crimes of moral turpitude or crimes related to your profession (e.g., elder abuse, domestic violence, theft).
What Is the Disciplinary Process in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, the primary initiator of disciplinary action against nursing home administrators is a formal complaint filed with the Nursing Home Administrators Licensing Board. Anyone can file a complaint, but most complaints against nursing home administrators are generated by residents, families of residents, colleagues, insurance companies, etc. Once a complaint is filed, the disciplinary process goes through the following stages.
Request for Response
Whenever an allegation is made against you, the Board will contact you to provide a formal notification and require your written response. It's essential that your reply be persuasive enough with supporting evidence, as this can have a direct impact on the Board's decision on whether or not to pursue the complaint further.
The next step in the process is for the Board to appoint a Preliminary Evaluation Committee (PEC) to investigate the complaint and look for evidence to support it. The PEC typically assigns an investigator to gather evidence, look at the documentation, interview the complainant and witnesses, and possibly take a statement from you under oath.
Should the investigation unearth enough evidence to suggest potential disciplinary action, the Board may offer to negotiate a consent order with you. This binding agreement will allow you to voluntarily submit to any proposed sanctions recommended by the Board without having to attend an official hearing. Your attorney won't typically recommend signing a consent order unless disciplinary action is inevitable or unless they can negotiate terms that allow you to keep your license (or at least provide a path to reinstatement).
If a formal hearing is called, you will appear in front of an Administrative Law Judge (preferably with an attorney) to show cause why you should be permitted to keep your license. Both sides will present arguments and supporting evidence. The Judge will then make a determination as to appropriate disciplinary action and make a recommendation to the Board. If you present compelling arguments, the complaint may be dropped; otherwise, penalties can range from reprimands and fines to complete revocation of your license.
Why You Need a New Jersey License Defense Attorney
The entire disciplinary process can be incredibly intimidating, especially if you don't have the experience or knowledge of license defense law. The Board is permitted to find you guilty based only on a preponderance of the evidence--meaning they only need to be convinced that you're more than 50 percent likely to have committed wrongdoing. There is no guaranteed presumption of innocence in license disciplinary cases, so from the outset, you're facing these allegations at a disadvantage.
That's why it's essential to hire an experienced New Jersey license defense attorney who understands the intricacies of this specialized area of law. Your attorney will assess the facts and evidence against you, prepare your response to any complaints, negotiate with the Board for lenient penalties and/or a complete dismissal of the complaint, represent you at a hearing if necessary, and present your case in the best possible light to the Board. Having the right attorney effectively levels the playing field and gives you a fighting chance at emerging with your nursing home administrator license intact.
Don't risk your future by fighting allegations of professional misconduct on your own. Let attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team work on your behalf to minimize the damage to your career. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.