Your dedication to helping others has led you on an extensive journey to pursue your profession as an orthotist or prosthetist in New Jersey. You've had to complete years of education and training, gain practical experience, pass grueling exams, and qualify for licensure (which is quite an achievement on its own). Your career is hard-won well deserved. That is why it can be incredibly distressing to learn that your license is being investigated due to an alleged violation or misconduct.
Your professional license is invaluable; after all, your livelihood basically depends on it. And yet, all it takes is a single complaint to jeopardize your license and potential future job opportunities. The New Jersey Orthotics and Prosthetics Board of Examiners conducts thorough investigations into all reported misconduct, and if they find evidence to support the allegations, it could very well cost you your license--along with everything you've worked for.
The news is not all bad, however. Retaining a skilled New Jersey license defense attorney at the first indication of trouble can significantly enhance your chances of emerging from the investigation with your license unscathed. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his license defense team have extensive experience in disciplinary cases like yours, and they have an excellent track record of obtaining favorable outcomes for their clients. To schedule a consultation, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.
Understanding the Disciplinary Process
In New Jersey, the disciplinary process for orthotists and prosthetists typically begins when someone files a formal complaint with the Orthotics and Prosthetics Board of Examiners. Once the Board receives a complaint against you, the process proceeds through the following stages:
Request for Response
After receiving a complaint, the Board will notify you and ask you to respond to the complaint in writing, providing any clarification or evidence to support your version of what happened. This first step is crucial because a well-crafted response could potentially cause the complaint to be dismissed with no further action. A skilled license defense attorney can assist in drafting a compelling initial response.
If the case moves forward, the Board will appoint a Preliminary Evaluation Committee (PEC) to further examine the complaint. The PEC will assign an investigator to look for evidence to support the allegations, which may include interviewing involved parties, issuing document subpoenas, and, if necessary, having you testify under oath.
If the PEC finds sufficient evidence to substantiate the complaint, they may propose to have you sign a consent order rather than summoning you to a formal hearing. A consent order is a legal agreement between you and the Board in which you voluntarily accept their recommended disciplinary actions. Due to the binding nature of this agreement, you should not sign one if you can present strong evidence of your innocence. However, if disciplinary action is inevitable, a competent attorney can often negotiate favorable terms in the consent order, such as allowing you to retain your license or at least including a path for reinstatement.
If you do not agree to a consent order, or if the Board opts not to offer one, your case will proceed to an official hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You are entitled to representation at this hearing, where both sides will present their arguments. The ALJ will then issue a decision for or against you and submit recommendations to the Board regarding any disciplinary actions--up to and including revoking your license.
What Allegations Could Endanger Your Orthotist and Prosthetist License?
New Jersey, like most states, has a code of conduct to which all orthotists and prosthetists must adhere, ensuring the highest ethical and professional standards for patient care. Thus, most allegations that could put your license at risk involve a breach of these rules or some other violation of public trust. Some examples include, but are not limited to:
- Fraud. Some common examples of healthcare fraud include charging insurance companies more than the actual amount, claiming higher-priced medical procedures than what was actually performed, or charging for services that were not provided.
- Gross negligence, incompetence, or carelessness. Improperly made orthotics and prosthetics can harm patients. If you are accused of providing inadequate care that jeopardizes patient health or safety, your license may be in danger.
- False advertising. Examples include advertising services for which you're not qualified or licensed, bait-and-switch billing policies, etc.
- Substance abuse/addiction. If you use drugs or consume too much alcohol, it may affect your job performance and raise concerns about your judgment. If someone reports you as being under the influence at work, your license could certainly be jeopardized.
- Criminal convictions. Some criminal convictions, especially those related to your job or involving crimes of moral turpitude, can disqualify you from holding a license.
- Acting beyond the scope of your license. Practicing without a proper license or prescriptive authority, as well as ordering tests or treatments you are unqualified to provide, can prompt a disciplinary investigation.
Why Hire a New Jersey License Defense Attorney
When your professional license is at stake, you are not guaranteed a presumption of innocence. The Board's primary focus is on ensuring public safety, not protecting its licensees--which means they are more likely to rule against you if they believe you're likely to have committed wrongdoing. This puts you at a significant disadvantage as the burden of proving your innocence essentially falls on you.
Enlisting the help of an experienced license defense attorney can level the playing field and give you a better chance at keeping your license. A proficient license defense attorney can gather evidence to support your case, negotiate for dismissal of the complaint or lenient penalties, and more. A particularly skilled attorney can often negotiate a resolution to the complaint without the need for a formal hearing.
Whether the complaint against you arises from a misunderstanding or an honest mistake, you owe it to yourself and all you've worked for to take allegations against your license seriously. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team stand ready to defend your license and career. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or fill out their online form to schedule a consultation.