Being a licensed psychiatrist is a profession that relies heavily on public trust. As with other doctors and medical professionals, the State of New York holds psychiatrists to very high standards of ethical and professional excellence.
Sadly, sometimes even the best psychiatrists can find themselves accused of misconduct--and all it may take to trigger disciplinary action is a single allegation. If someone files a complaint against you and the New York Office of Professional Conduct (OPMC) investigates it, it's not just your reputation at stake--it's your livelihood. That's why it's so important to have an experienced New York license defense attorney on your side who knows how to navigate the disciplinary process and protect your rights.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has a track record of successfully defending the licenses of New York professionals like you. He has a deep understanding of the OPMC's procedures and applicable laws and knows how to effectively challenge allegations of wrongdoing and negotiate for the best possible outcome. If your license is under investigation, don't try to handle it on your own—call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
What Kinds of Charges Could Endanger a Psychiatrist's License in New York?
Psychiatrists in New York can have their licenses revoked for misconduct stemming from a wide range of sources, the majority being related to violations against state policies, ethical/professional standards, and/or public trust. To list a few:
- Sexual misconduct with patients or staff. Examples include sexual harassment, sexual assault, unwanted sexual advances, or unethical romantic relationships with patients.
- Inappropriate handling of prescriptions/medications. For example, prescribing medicines without a valid medical reason or diverting medications for personal use.
- Gross negligence or incompetence in treating patients. Examples include failing to provide proper care, making serious errors in diagnosis or treatment, or abandoning patients without notice.
- Violation of confidentiality/privacy laws. For example, discussing a patient's case with someone who is not part of the treatment team or disclosing protected health information without the patient's consent.
- Fraud. For example, submitting insurance claims for service not provided, "upcoding" certain procedures for greater insurance payouts, etc.
- Substance abuse. Abusing drugs or alcohol can result in loss of license because it calls into question your ability to exercise sound judgment with your patients.
- Criminal convictions. Being convicted of certain crimes can disqualify you from practicing as a psychiatrist in New York.
What Does the License Disciplinary Process Look Like in New York?
In New York, the public can file formal complaints against licensed psychiatrists through the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC). Most complaints against psychiatrists are submitted by patients, coworkers, other practitioners, and in some cases, insurance companies. Once a complaint has been filed, the process moves ahead in the following stages.
Once a complaint is filed with the OPMC, an investigation will be opened to see if there is enough evidence to support it. This involves talking to the person who made the complaint and any witnesses, looking at documents and doing other research. If the investigation doesn't produce enough evidence to back up the complaint, the OPMC will end its pursuit of the matter there. If evidence is uncovered that points toward the need for further inquiry, the matter then goes to an investigation committee for review. The committee will review the complaint and decide if it should be dismissed, investigated further, or if a formal hearing is necessary. The OPMC (Office of Professional Medical Conduct) will be updated with the decision and next steps.
A consent order is a legally binding agreement that may be negotiated with the OPMC at any point during the disciplinary process. In this document, you admit to wrongdoing and agree to any recommendations for disciplinary action set forth. If disciplinary actions are likely, a well-negotiated consent order can be a favorable option, especially if your attorney can negotiate to include a pathway for reinstating your license. However, it's not the best choice for every case, so consult with an attorney before signing one.
If the investigation produces evidence of wrongdoing and no consent order is signed, you will be summoned for a formal hearing before the Board of Professional Medical Conduct. During this hearing, you will have to provide justification as to why your license should not be revoked. You are allowed to have an attorney represent you during this process. After the hearing, the board will either find you guilty or innocent and then decide what disciplinary action to take, which could include revoking your professional license.
You can appeal the board's decision to an Administrative Review Board if you believe that you were not given a fair hearing or that mistakes were made during the disciplinary process.
How Hiring a New York Psychiatrist License Defense Attorney Can Help
Since misconduct by psychiatrists can damage patients, the OPMC has an obligation to protect the public against bad actors. It has broad authority to impose discipline and a relatively low burden of proof to declare you guilty. If you are a psychiatrist who is accused of misconduct, know that there is no automatic assumption of innocence. Anything you say or do to defend yourself could later be used against you as evidence. This puts you at a disadvantage if a complaint is filed against you.
By hiring a lawyer who is skilled in license law, you are evening the playing field and increasing your chances of success against any complaints. A good attorney can:
- Be your legal representative in all interactions with the OPMC and Board.
- Review the complaint against you and determine the most likely defense strategy to succeed.
- Gather evidence and witnesses to support your case.
- Negotiate with the OPMC on your behalf for a dismissal of the complaint or for lesser disciplinary actions that allow you to keep your license.
- Negotiate favorable terms in a consent order.
- Defend you vigorously at a formal hearing.
- Appeal a negative decision.
- Assist with the process of reinstatement of your license if it has already been revoked.
Don't risk your career and your livelihood by facing misconduct allegations alone. Attorney Joseph D. Lento can greatly improve your chances of walking away with your New York psychiatrist's license intact. Call (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.