Being a licensed optometrist in New York is a noble profession—but it's also one that relies heavily on public trust. That's why you had to go through so many years of schooling, exams, and field practice just to become licensed in the State of New York. Unfortunately, all of this hard work and dedication can be undone in an instant if your license is placed under investigation by the New York State Office of the Professions (OP) over an alleged act of misconduct.
In a nutshell, without a license to practice, you have no career. The OP has broad power to investigate complaints and take corrective action against you supported only by proof that is more likely than not true. Whether the complaint stems from a misunderstanding or an honest mistake, without proper legal help, it could cost you your career.
Don't face this daunting situation alone. With an attorney experienced in New York license discipline issues, you can get the assistance and expertise needed to keep your license intact. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a New York attorney with years of experience in assisting professionals like you who are facing disciplinary action. His team has the know-how and experience to work toward the best possible outcome for your case. To discuss your situation, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.
What Allegations Could Cause an Optometrist to Lose Their License in New York?
The State of New York expects its licensed optometrists to uphold both professional and ethical standards. Most concerns that threaten an optometrist's license typically involve a breach of these standards. Common examples include:
- Fraud. Fraudulent activities may include billing insurance for services not actually performed, inflating the cost of medical procedures on insurance claims, falsifying or altering patient records, false advertising, etc.
- Sexual misconduct/inappropriate relationships. Allegations of making inappropriate sexual advances or other acts of sexual harassment toward colleagues or patients can easily result in losing your license. You can also face discipline for engaging in a romantic relationship with a patient you're treating, which is considered a severe ethical violation.
- Medication violations. Examples include writing prescriptions without a justifiable medical reason, diverting medications for personal use, and conducting illegitimate "pill mill" operations.
- Substance abuse. Abusing alcohol or drugs can affect your judgment when treating patients, especially if you're drunk or high on the job. Such allegations can be career-ending.
- Criminal convictions. If you are convicted of certain crimes, especially crimes of moral turpitude or crimes related to your profession, you may be disqualified from holding an optometrist license.
How the License Disciplinary Process Works in New York
The Office of the Professions regulates licensure for a wide range of professions, including optometrists. If you're accused of wrongdoing, the OP has established a straightforward process for determining appropriate disciplinary action. Your case will move through the following stages.
The Office of the Professions typically initiates license investigations after a formal complaint is filed. Anyone can file such a complaint, but optometrists usually receive complaints from patients/clients, colleagues, and even insurance providers.
After a complaint has been lodged, the OP will launch an investigation in order to gather evidence that corroborates and affirms it. This process may include interviewing those who filed the complaint and any potential witnesses, issuing subpoenas for documents, as well as other methods of getting at the facts. Should the investigation fail to uncover sufficient evidence, then the OP will typically dismiss the complaint. Otherwise, they will forward all documented proof of wrongdoing to New York State's Department of Education Board of Regents for further assessment.
If there's sufficient evidence to corroborate the complaint, the Board may present you with an offer of a consent order as an alternative to convening a formal hearing. Through this agreement, you voluntarily submit to the disciplinary action(s) recommended by the Board. This outcome isn't always advisable, especially if you can present compelling evidence to refute the complaint. However, in some cases, a consent order could be the best option to resolve the case, especially if it contains terms to allow for the reinstatement of your license.
Hearing and Determination
With no consent order in place, the Board of Regents will require you to attend a formal hearing in order to explain why your optometrist license shouldn't be revoked. An attorney can represent you at the hearing. After the hearing concludes, the Board will render a decision regarding your discipline, which could range from an official reprimand to monetary fines or even complete revocation of your license.
Why Hire a License Defense Attorney
The OP and the Board of Regents take allegations of misconduct very seriously, and unlike criminal offenses, you are not guaranteed the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The Board only needs to be convinced of your guilt based on a preponderance of the evidence to impose disciplinary actions against your license. This effectively puts you at a disadvantage.
When you are facing the possibility of losing your license, an experienced defense attorney can provide a much-needed balance in the proceedings. A knowledgeable lawyer will understand the intricate nuances of New York's disciplinary systems and be able to showcase any mitigating factors that could work in your favor. A good attorney can gather evidence and witnesses to support your case, negotiate directly with the Board for dismissal of the complaint or more lenient penalties, negotiate favorable terms on a consent order, and, if necessary, defend you at a formal hearing. With the help of effective legal counsel, you have a significantly greater chance to protect your license and your career.
As a licensed optometrist in New York, your license is essential to your career. Don't put yourself at risk of losing it due to misconduct allegations by trying to handle the situation on your own. Instead, trust attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team as they fight for you and seek out the best possible outcome that could very well save you from jeopardizing all you have worked for. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.