As a licensed physical therapist in New York, you've invested a lot of time and money in building a career based on helping people. Your license is effectively your most prized possession because your livelihood hinges on it. That's why it can be so scary and traumatic to learn that your license is under investigation due to a complaint or allegation of misconduct.
Any complaints against you, regardless of their validity, must be investigated by the New York State Office of the Professions (OP). If there is any evidence to support the complaint, disciplinary charges may be brought up against you which could jeopardize your license--and the OP has broad authority to impose disciplinary actions based only on a preponderance of the evidence. Your best hope of protecting your career is to retain the services of an experienced New York license defense attorney--someone who understands the investigative process and can work to ensure your rights are protected. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has many years of experience in New York administrative law, and his efforts can make the difference between saving your license and losing it. To discuss your situation, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.
What Could Cause a Physical Therapist to Lose Their License in New York?
Being a physical therapist demands a high level of trust with patients, and for that reason, the State of New York holds its physical therapists to high ethical and professional standards. Most allegations that result in disciplinary action have something to do with violating these policies. Among the most common are:
- Sexual misconduct. Because physical therapy treatments usually involve a lot of physical contact, it can be easy to accidentally cross boundaries with patients. Also, if you have a romantic or sexual relationship with someone you're treating, it's considered highly unethical and is likely to result in loss of license. Sexual harassment or unwanted sexual advances toward patients or colleagues can also result in disciplinary action.
- Substance abuse. If you abuse alcohol or drugs, even when not working, it endangers your license because it calls your competence and judgment into question with patients as well as with the state.
- Patient abuse. If you are accused of abuse, verbal or physical, by a patient or colleague, your professional license could be in jeopardy.
- Improper record keeping. Maintaining detailed and accurate records is critical to protecting both patients and insurance companies from errors, or worse, the appearance of deliberate deception. Sloppy or inaccurate records can endanger your license.
How the Disciplinary Process Works
New York has created a uniform system for the general public to file complaints against licensed professionals, including physical therapists. Although anyone can file a complaint about you to the Office of the Professions, most complaints will come from patients, coworkers, colleagues, etc. The stages of the disciplinary process are as follows:
The OP will investigate the validity of a complaint by gathering supporting evidence. This typically contains interviews with those involved, subpoenaed documents, and other similar methods to collect information. If the OP discovers insufficient evidence of misconduct, they will take no further action. If there is evidence to support the claims, however, they will refer the matter to the NYS Department of Education Board of Regents for further review and evaluation.
If the Board has enough evidence to charge you formally, they may give you the opportunity to sign a consent order in lieu of a hearing. A consent order is an agreement between you and the state in which you admit that misconduct occurred and agree to disciplinary actions recommended by the Board. While a consent order isn't always advisable, it may be the best option if disciplinary action is likely, especially if your attorney can negotiate it to allow you to keep your license--or at least include a path toward reinstatement.
Hearing and Determination
The next step, should you not agree to a consent order, is for the Board of Regents to hold a formal hearing during which they will ask you to show cause why your license shouldn't be revoked. At this hearing, you have the right to bring an attorney for representation. After listening to your argument, the board will make a decision about repercussions, which could be anything from a reprimand to taking away your physical therapist's license altogether.
Why You Need an Experienced New York License Defense Attorney
The Office of the Professions' and Board of Regents' ultimate priority is protecting public safety. They have a low burden of proof to show you committed wrongdoing, and they have broad authority to impose discipline or to revoke your license on the preponderance of the evidence (meaning they only need to be convinced you more likely than not committed the offense in question). This puts you at a distinct disadvantage from the moment a complaint is filed.
If you are facing discipline from the OP or Board of Regents, it is in your best interests to hire a knowledgeable New York license defense attorney to represent you throughout the process. A good lawyer will be familiar with both the organizations and proceedings involved and can provide an invaluable level of guidance and protection while making sure your side is carefully considered. A good attorney will also negotiate with the Board at multiple points to get you the most favorable outcome possible, whether it's lighter penalties or full dismissal of the complaint. In short, your chances of keeping your physical therapist's license go up considerably with an experienced attorney in your corner.
Don't take unnecessary risks with your future if your license is under investigation. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team will work to help you save your license and your career. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.