As a licensed physician assistant (PA) in New York, you've paid a high price to establish your career—from your years of education to more years of practical clinical experience. You now provide valuable medical care to the people of New York, and you're trusted by physicians and the public alike. That's why it can be so disheartening to find out someone has filed a complaint against your license to practice.
The New York Office of Professional Conduct (OPMC) is committed to safeguarding the public trust by holding its licensed professionals to the highest ethical and professional standards. Any complaint suggesting that these standards have been breached could instigate an investigation, potentially leading to disciplinary actions against you, including the possibility of revocation of your license.
Your livelihood is effectively at the mercy of a state agency that can rule against you based solely on a preponderance of the evidence. Therefore, it is crucial to have a New York license defense attorney on your side to safeguard your rights and interests throughout the entire process.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his license defense team have an extensive track record representing professionals before the OPMC, and they will tirelessly advocate for the protection of your license and livelihood. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
Potential Charges that Could Jeopardize Your New York PA License
The Office of Professional Medical Conduct investigates a broad spectrum of conduct, ranging from unprofessional behavior to medical negligence and fraud. If you are the subject of an OPMC investigation, even if it is based on groundless allegations or unfounded accusations, you remain susceptible to disciplinary action if the board is convinced of your guilt. Offenses that could endanger your license as a physician assistant include:
- Sexual misconduct involving patients or staff: Examples include sexual harassment, sexual assault, or unwelcome sexual advances. Romantic relationships with patients are also considered highly unethical and may be grounds for revoking your license.
- Improper management of prescriptions/medications: For instance, prescribing medications for non-medical reasons or misappropriating medications designated for someone else.
- Severe negligence or incompetence in treating patients: Examples might include failing to provide adequate care, making significant errors in diagnosis or treatment, or conducting unnecessary procedures.
- Breach of confidentiality/privacy laws: For example, violating patient confidentiality or disclosing protected health information without the patient's consent.
- Fraud: Examples include submitting insurance claims for services not rendered, "upcoding" certain procedures for increased insurance payouts, altering patient records, and more.
- Substance abuse: If you abuse drugs or alcohol, you may lose your license to practice medicine due to concerns about your ability to exercise sound judgment while treating patients.
- Criminal convictions: Some criminal convictions can disqualify you from practicing as a PA in New York.
Understanding the Disciplinary Process in New York
Most disciplinary actions in New York begin with a complaint. Any member of the public can file a complaint with the OPMC, but most complaints against PAs come from patients, coworkers, other practitioners, and occasionally insurance companies. From there, the disciplinary process unfolds in the following stages:
Upon receiving a complaint, the OPMC initiates an investigation to determine if there is evidence to substantiate the complaint. OPMC investigators may request documents from you and your practice, contact witnesses who can provide information about the incident or allegation in question, and undertake other necessary actions to determine whether disciplinary action against you is warranted. If the investigation does not yield sufficient evidence to support the complaint, the OPMC will generally consider the matter closed. However, if they find corroborating evidence, the matter will be referred to an investigation committee to review the complaint and decide whether to dismiss it, continue investigating, or call a formal hearing.
A consent order is a legally binding agreement in which you voluntarily submit to the disciplinary actions recommended by the OPMC as an alternative to defending yourself at a formal hearing. A consent order may be negotiated at any point in the disciplinary process but is typically offered by the OPMC in situations where disciplinary action against your license is inevitable. In the right circumstances, a consent order can be a favorable option, especially if your attorney succeeds in negotiating terms that either allow you to keep your license or provide a reinstatement option. However, as a consent order effectively constitutes an admission of guilt and cannot be reversed once signed, you should always consult with an attorney before agreeing to sign a consent order.
If the OPMC decides to proceed with disciplinary action against your license, you will receive notice to appear at a formal hearing before the Board of Professional Medical Conduct. At this hearing, you will present your case as to why the Board should not revoke your license. You are permitted to have an attorney represent you during the hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board will make a final determination regarding the imposition of disciplinary actions against you and the nature of those actions, which may include revoking your physician assistant's license.
The Importance of Engaging a New York License Defense Attorney
From the moment a complaint is filed against your license to practice, you are effectively placed at a disadvantage. The OPMC takes allegations of misconduct very seriously, and there is no guaranteed presumption of innocence because the primary responsibility of the OPMC is to protect the public. They have a low burden of proof to decide whether you committed wrongdoing, and they are not above erring on the side of caution when making decisions about your license.
A seasoned New York license defense attorney can help level the playing field and enhance your chances of retaining your license. An attorney with specific experience in this area of law will understand how the system operates and can develop a strategy that significantly improves your likelihood of navigating the disciplinary process unscathed.
A skilled attorney will:
- Serve as your legal representative in all interactions with the OPMC and Board.
- Analyze the accusation against you and strategize the most effective defense to exonerate you.
- Collect evidence and witnesses to support your case.
- Negotiate with the OPMC at various stages either to have the complaint dismissed or to secure lenient disciplinary terms that enable you to retain your license.
- Negotiate favorable terms in a consent order.
- Vigorously defend you at a formal hearing.
- Appeal an unfavorable decision.
- Assist with the reinstatement process for your license if it has already been revoked.
If you're a licensed physician assistant in New York and you've received notice of a complaint filed against you, the attorney you choose can make all the difference in your case. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team can significantly increase your chances of success in a license investigation. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation, or use our online form.