No one needs to tell you that your medical license is your most important asset as a physician. Obviously, you can't practice without a license. Beyond that basic fact, though, your license is a validation of what you know and who you are. It tells your community that you're fully qualified and that you've demonstrated to the satisfaction of the state of New Mexico that you can be trusted to care for the lives and well-being of the state's citizens.
There's nothing scarier than having your license threatened. Issues with your education hours, questions about your credentials, accusations of misconduct—any of these can put your license at risk. And, in today's political and social climate, problems like these can arise at any time.
How do you protect yourself and your license? Unfortunately, you can't always count on the Board of Medicine to take your side in a dispute. Under normal circumstances, the Board is an advocate for physicians, but the moment you've been accused—even if you know that you're entirely innocent—the Board automatically becomes your adversary.
The good news is that the state of New Mexico gives you a number of important due process rights any time you are under investigation. Among the most important of these rights, you're entitled to full representation by an attorney.
If you're facing a problem with your license, the very first call you should make is to the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team. The attorneys at the Lento Law Firm know all of New Mexico's state licensing requirements. They're also fully informed as to the Medical Boards' rules and procedures. Plus, they've represented hundreds of physicians. They have the knowledge, background, and experience to handle any licensing problem. Most importantly, though, they're on your side. You work hard, day in and day out, to protect the public's health. Someone should be there when you need protection. That someone is the Lento Law Firm.
The Physician Licensing Process in New Mexico
First things first: just what does it take to be licensed as a doctor in the state of New Mexico? The fact is, you don't have to be under investigation to need the help of an attorney. Just completing the licensing process can be complicated.
As part of the application process, for instance, you're required to submit a number of documents.
- The application form itself
- Verification of any medical licenses you may hold in any US state or territory
- Two recommendation letters from qualified medical experts as to your “character and competence to practice medicine.”
- Verification of all work experience and hospital affiliations in the past two years
- A copy of all American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) specialty certifications
In addition, the Board may have you investigated by the American Medical Association, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federation of State Medical Boards, the national practitioner data bank, and any other data sources to verify your history as a medical professional and your fitness to work in the field.
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can help you put together your documents and complete your application. We have a full grasp of the New Mexico licensing system. For example, we know that:
- You need to start the process three months ahead of your start date.
- Gaps in your training, education, and work history of more than six months can cause delays in your application.
- You must fill out and sign an authorization form for each person or service you expect to communicate with the Board.
We can make sure you dot all your I's and cross all your T's.
Maintaining Your Medical License
Once you've obtained your license, you then need to worry about fulfilling renewal requirements. In New Mexico, renewals are due every three years. For this process, you need
- A completed license renewal form
- Documentation that you have completed the required 75 hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME).
As part of the renewal process, the Board reviews your entire record—not just over the three-year period since your previous license was issued, but your career overall. You may be subject to a criminal background check. Any complaints made against you will be carefully reviewed. Any blemish on your record—even something minor such as a DUI or a domestic abuse complaint—can put your license in jeopardy.
Here again, the Lento Law Firm can serve a crucial role in helping you navigate New Mexico's licensing system. The firm's attorneys not only know all the forms you need to submit but stay up-to-date on new licensing requirements. Ultimately, it's their job to ensure that your interests are protected in every situation.
If you're looking to renew your license and worried that something in your record might raise issues, contact the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to find out how we can help.
Just What Can Put Your Physician License at Risk?
The Lento Law Firm Team can help you apply for and renew your medical license. We're also here any time your license is at risk. The fact is, even if you're following all the Board's many rules, even if you're abiding by all the ethical requirements of your profession, your license can still be threatened. Any time anyone lodges a complaint about you, there's a good chance the Board will open an investigation into your professional conduct. Even if you're entirely innocent, it doesn't mean the Board will see that. If It should decide you are guilty of violating state regulations, it has the authority to sanction you up to and including the revocation of your license.
What is it that can get you into trouble? The list is long, but it includes
- Unprofessional Conduct: This is a broad, catch-all category that includes everything from verbally abusing a patient to sexually harassing a colleague.
- Drug Misuse or Mishandling: Misusing sample medications, over-prescribing medications, prescribing unnecessary drugs, and writing prescriptions for yourself—any of these can get you into serious trouble. In fact, even simple mistakes, like failing to properly document a prescription, can put your license in jeopardy.
- Patient Abuse or Neglect: All allegations of patient abuse, whether those allegations have to do with physical, mental, verbal, or sexual abuse, are likely to trigger an investigation.
- Fraud: As you might expect, deliberately falsifying records opens you up to an allegation of fraud. Here again, though, you can also be charged for making honest mistakes.
- Violating Doctor-Patient Confidentiality: Even accidentally divulging a patient's confidence can get you into serious trouble.
- Habitual or Excessive Use of Intoxicants: The term “Intoxicants,” of course, isn't just limited to illegal drugs. Excessive drinking can be a cause for investigation by the Board.
- Criminal Convictions: Any conviction that might lead to incarceration in a “federal or state penitentiary” puts your license at risk. In fact, even accusations of misdemeanors can raise serious questions about your fitness to continue as a medical professional.
There's no question that you have a responsibility to abide by the law and all the ethics of your profession. The fact is, though, that you can easily wind up accused of violating state regulations through no fault of your own.
Further, even if you have committed a violation, you should recognize that the Board can be overly severe in assigning sanctions. Anxious to satisfy the public that it's taking its role seriously, the Board can overreact in some situations, moving too quickly to accuse a physician and punishing doctors with draconian measures. The attorneys at the Lento Law Firm aren't just experienced at defending your innocence, though. They're also skilled at protecting clients from unfair sanctions.
The Disciplinary Process in New Mexico
An allegation of misconduct—any allegation—can be a stressful experience. It doesn't mean you will necessarily lose your license, though. You have the right to defend yourself any time you are charged with violating state regulations, and you have a number of important due process rights as well.
Here's a general overview of how cases typically unfold, followed by a close look at each aspect of the process.
- Cases begin with an official complaint.
- The New Mexico Medical Board then appoints an Administrative Prosecutor to conduct a full investigation.
- The Board then holds a formal hearing into the matter.
- The Board may determine that you are innocent of any charges. However, if it finds you guilty, it has the power to issue sanctions, including fines, the suspension of your license, or the revocation of your license.
One of the most frustrating parts of protecting your license is that complaints can come from literally anywhere. That includes
- Other clinic or hospital staff
The New Mexico Medical Board conducts its own inspections as well. In addition to all these other sources, then, the Board itself could decide to charge with a violation.
However, a charge isn't the same as a guilty finding. No Complainant on their own can revoke your license. Only the Board itself can decide you are guilty. Only the Board can assign sanctions. And importantly, the Board is governed by a clear set of rules and procedures that afford you some important due process rights.
Unless it believes you might in some way interfere with the investigation, the Board normally issues a Notice of the Charges. This Notice should provide specifics of the allegation, inform you of your rights, and offer you a chance to respond to the allegations.
In New Mexico, the responsibility of investigation itself is vested in an Administrative Prosecutor appointed by the Board. This individual must first determine whether or not a given complaint is credible and actionable. Generally speaking, a Prosecutor won't proceed without some clear evidence you've violated state regulations.
Prosecutors often begin by asking you to offer your side of the story. However, they also have the power to subpoena any potential witnesses, including supervisors, colleagues, and other institutional staff. They'll also collect any physical evidence that might be relevant to the case.
It's important to remember that while you may believe you are innocent, an investigator usually takes the Complainant's side. If they don't find any evidence, they won't proceed, but you can count on them to put a negative spin on any and all material they do uncover. That means even if you've done nothing wrong, you need an attorney from the Lento Law Firm Team on your side to make sure you're treated fairly. And if you should have something incriminating in your background, you certainly need someone from the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team to place that evidence into the proper context and minimize the damage it might cause.
In short, attorneys aren't just for representing you at official hearings. They can play a vital role during the investigative process.
Once the investigation is complete, the case then moves to a hearing. The Prosecutor, of course, prosecutes the case. Board members serve as judge and jury. In fact, hearings resemble criminal court cases in many respects. For example, you have the right to submit evidence, to call witnesses, and to cross-examine any witnesses against you. You may file motions. There are rules of evidence.
And, just as in criminal court cases, New Mexico law grants you the right to be represented by an attorney.
You should keep in mind, though, that a Medical Board hearing is not a criminal trial. While it follows a similar structure, there are a number of important differences. Board members, for example, aren't judges. They don't have any legal training. In addition, procedures don't require them to find you guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” They may use a lesser standard such as “preponderance of the evidence,” a standard that requires them to find you guilty if they are more than fifty percent convinced you committed a violation.
In short, you definitely need an attorney, but not just any attorney will do. It's not enough to have an attorney who is familiar with local or state judicial procedures. You need someone with experience dealing specifically with licensing defenses, someone who has worked on medical licensing cases and understands exactly how they work. The attorneys at the Lento Law Firm are familiar with the New Mexico licensing system, and they've represented hundreds of doctors in licensing cases. They understand what you're up against, and they're always on your side. No matter what the charges are, they'll do everything in their power to get you the best possible resolution to your case.
New Mexico state law grants the Medical Board the authority to assign sanctions to any medical professional found guilty of violating state regulations. Recognized sanctions include
- Probation: Not only can the Board place you on probation, but it has almost unlimited power to set the conditions of your probation, conditions you must meet in order to retain your license.
- License suspension: Here again, the Board has enormous flexibility when it comes to deciding how long a suspension should last and what is required to reinstate your license after the suspension.
- License revocation: The most serious penalty for violating state regulations is, of course, license revocation. State law requires that revocation include all manner of medical practice. That is, you are barred from working as a physician in any content. In addition, revocation is permanent. State law forbids any sort of reinstatement after revocation.
Why You Need a Physician License Defense Team
By this point, you should have a clear sense of why it's so important you hire someone from the Lento Law Firm Team to represent you in license defense cases.
- First and foremost, it's no exaggeration to say that everything about your career is at stake. At the risk of stating the obvious, if you should lose your license, your career in medicine is over.
- License defenses are incredibly complex. You don't just need an attorney to stand up for you at the hearing or to cross-examine witnesses on your behalf. You need an attorney to help you navigate the complexities of the judicial system. The attorneys at the Lento Law Firm know how to organize a strong defense; they know what makes for good evidence; they know what questions to ask witnesses; they know your rights and how to protect them.
- Finally, you must understand that medical boards are under enormous pressure from state lawmakers and the general public to enforce state law. Generally speaking, the Board is not on your side in a license defense. You need someone who is, someone who can represent you and who is always looking out for your best interests.
Not all attorneys are created equal though. You may be tempted to find a local attorney or a family attorney to help with your license issues. Physicians often are. After all, these attorneys are there, in your hometown. You don't have to do any research to find them. You may even have used one of them for previous legal matters.
Licensing is a very particular area of the law, however, and it's one the average attorney isn't familiar with. Local attorneys usually haven't studied case law when it comes to medical license issues; they don't know state regulations; they may never have represented a client in a licensing matter. What you need is an attorney who understands that Medical Board cases present unique challenges and who knows how to respond to those challenges.
The Lento Law Firm was founded to protect doctors and other professionals. The attorneys at the firm have studied New Mexico state law as it applies to physicians. Beyond this, they know what's expected of doctors and other medical professionals. They're familiar with the American Medical Association's Code of Ethics. They know how the New Mexico licensing system works. They stay abreast of all the legal developments related to the practice of medicine.
A local attorney may be the perfect choice to represent you in a domestic violence case or a DUI. When it comes to a license defense, though, you need someone with a background in defending medical licenses. You need an attorney from the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team.
Other Licensure Concerns
Finally, keep in mind that the Lento Law Firm Team can help with many other issues related to the practice of medicine. The firm's knowledge of the medical field and the New Mexico licensing system makes it a useful resource for a wide range of professional concerns.
From time to time, for example, the Medical Board will raise questions about a medical school's accreditation. Should your school's reputation come under question, you can find your own credentials in jeopardy. This can be a particularly delicate situation involving the need for careful negotiation. The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team are skilled at working with all sides and coming up with solutions that satisfy everyone. You can count on the attorneys at the Lento Law Firm to know exactly who to talk to when there's a problem and exactly what to say.
Additionally, the Lento Law Firm Team keeps an eye on Board developments. They stay up to date on who is in line to serve on the Board, how new Board members tend to vote, and which way the Board is leaning politically. They monitor monthly Board meetings and have a sense of what proposals are under consideration. They're always abreast of any new developments in the field of medicine and any specific new regulations in the state of New Mexico. As a result, they can be an invaluable resource for physicians at any time—not just when your license is under threat.
What Can the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Do For You?
Your medical license means everything to you. It gives you the right to practice your profession. It certifies that you are qualified and experienced. It lets patients know that you can be trusted. If that license is being threatened in any way, you can't afford to take chances. You absolutely must do everything you can to defend yourself, and that starts with hiring the best legal representation you can.
The Lento Law Firm understands your situation. They've helped hundreds of doctors and other healthcare professionals handle similar situations. They know the law. They've studied it, and they keep up with how it continues to grow and evolve. And they know the licensing system in New Hampshire.
If your license is under threat, don't wait to see what might happen. Begin building your defense now.