As an occupational therapist in New York, you have invested time and money to build a successful career helping people. You've worked hard to get your education, sat for the NBCOT exams, and spent years in the field earning the trust of your patients. That's why it can be so devastating to learn that your license is under investigation by the New York State Office of the Professions (OP) over an alleged act of misconduct.
Simply put, without a license to practice, you have no career. And yet, the OP has broad authority to investigate complaints and impose disciplinary action against you based only on a preponderance of the evidence. Unless you respond decisively and wisely, a single complaint could very well cost you your license.
Fortunately, you don't need to face this difficult situation alone. Hiring an attorney with specific experience in license discipline issues can provide invaluable assistance as you navigate the complex process of defending your license. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a New York attorney with a long track record of success helping professionals like you who are facing disciplinary action. He and his team have the knowledge and experience to get you the best possible outcome and quite possibly rescue your career. To discuss your situation, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.
What Could Cause an Occupational Therapist to Lose Their License in New York?
New York holds its licensed occupational therapists to high ethical and professional standards according to the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Code of Conduct. Any accusations that could potentially put your license in jeopardy are typically connected to one or more breaches of this Code. Common examples include:
- Fraud. Examples of fraud include embellishing insurance claims, billing for unreceived services, fabricating credentials, adjusting patient records without consent, deceptive advertising tactics, and more.
- Harmful behavior. The NBCOT has implemented a stringent protocol that prohibits any behavior which could jeopardize the wellbeing of patients. If you have endangered a patient in any way through your conduct, disciplinary measures may be taken against you.
- Substance abuse. Abusing alcohol and/or drugs can cast doubt on your ability to practice as an occupational therapist, especially if you're observed as being impaired on the job.
- Criminal convictions. If you are convicted of certain crimes, especially one of moral turpitude or related to the practice of occupational therapy, you could be disqualified from holding a license in New York. Additionally, failing to disclose a conviction voluntarily can result in disciplinary action from the OP.
- Unprofessional conduct. Examples may include making untruthful statements to customers or employers, abusive language and conduct, etc.
- Failure to protect patient confidentiality. If you fail to adhere to HIPAA regulations for securing a patient's personal information or health records, it could result in the suspension of your license.
The License Disciplinary Process in New York
The State of New York has established a straightforward, fairly uniform process for disciplining licensed professionals, including occupational therapists, via the Office of the Professions. If you're accused of wrongdoing, the disciplinary process will move through a set of stages.
The vast majority of license investigations begin with a formal complaint lodged with the Office of the Professions. Any member of the public can file a complaint, but for occupational therapists, most complaints come from patients/clients, colleagues, and in some cases, insurance providers.
After receiving a complaint, the OP will commence an investigation to seek evidence that confirms the complaint. This process could involve interviews with both the complainant and witnesses, subpoenas for documents, and other fact-finding initiatives. If the investigation uncovers no compelling evidence of wrongdoing, the OP may opt to dismiss the complaint at this point. If they do uncover evidence, they will refer the matter to the NYS Department of Education Board of Regents for further review.
If there is compelling evidence to substantiate the complaint, the Board may offer to negotiate a consent order with you in lieu of calling a formal hearing. A consent order is an agreement between you and the state in which you voluntarily submit to disciplinary action recommended by the Board. This outcome isn't suitable in every situation, but if disciplinary action is likely, a consent order could be the best option, especially if your attorney can negotiate terms to let you keep your license--or at least if the order includes a path toward reinstatement of your license.
Hearing and Determination
The next step in the process is for the Board of Regents to summon you to a formal hearing to show cause why your occupational therapist license shouldn't be revoked. You may be represented by an attorney at this hearing. After the hearing is complete, the Board will make a definitive ruling about your punishment which could range from an official reprimand to financial penalties or even full revocation of your license.
Why You Need an Attorney
The disciplinary process for occupational therapists in New York can be intimidating, and the potential consequences of a negative outcome are severe. What's worse, you have no guaranteed presumption of innocence. The OP has an obligation to protect the public first and foremost, and they only have to be convinced that you are at least 51 percent likely to have committed an offense to impose discipline against you. Without an attorney, you're at a great disadvantage from the beginning.
An experienced license defense attorney can level the playing field during this process and give you a fighting chance at keeping your license intact. A good attorney will understand the workings of New York's disciplinary processes, and they'll have the knowledge and skills to highlight any mitigating factors in your case which could work in your favor. They can gather evidence and witnesses to support your defense, negotiate directly with the Board to avert or minimize disciplinary action, and if necessary, defend you vigorously at your hearing. All things considered, you stand a much more favorable chance of preserving your license with the right legal representation advocating for you.
If you're a licensed occupational therapist in New York, your license is the key to your career. Don't take unnecessary risks to your license by facing misconduct allegations on your own. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team will work to get you the best outcome possible, quite possibly saving your career. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.