Facing License Issues as a North Carolina Physician? The Lento Law Firm Team Can Help
If you're a North Carolina physician, you've invested years (and untold resources) into your current career. After all of the education and training you had to pursue, you had to apply for and maintain your professional license, too. Your license is critical to your profession: It's the thing that allows you to legally practice medicine in your state.
One allegation against you can potentially put that all-important license in jeopardy. (And with it, your reputation and livelihood.)
You shouldn't have to lose everything you've worked so hard to achieve. By retaining the premier services of the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm, you may not have to. Selecting our firm, with our specific experience defending licensed medical professionals against disciplinary proceedings, is the single best thing you can do to work toward a successful outcome in your case.
The defense attorneys on the Lento Law Firm Team can help you evaluate your case, know your options, and advocate for you throughout the entire complex North Carolina license disciplinary process. We are pleased to represent physicians nationwide and in cities all across North Carolina, both big and small.
What North Carolina Government Body Oversees Medical Licenses?
The North Carolina governmental body that oversees physician licensure is the North Carolina Medical Board. This board, often abbreviated as the NCMB, is responsible for issuing licenses, monitoring physicians to ensure they remain compliant and can use their licenses, and disciplining physicians (and other healthcare professionals) when they engage in behaviors violating their professional expectations.
The disciplinary actions the NCMB can mete out include fines, remedial education, probation, and license suspension or even revocation.
When someone files a complaint against a healthcare provider in North Carolina, the NCMB is likely the government body responsible for initiating investigations. This board is comprised of thirteen members, eight of whom are physicians. They're appointed by North Carolina's governor, and each board member serves three-year terms.
Complaints against a healthcare practitioner in North Carolina can come from a number of sources. For example, patients can file such complaints. So can other healthcare providers. Complaints can also arise from routine audits of medical practices. If, after an investigation, a practitioner is found responsible for a violation of an NCMB regulation, the board can recommend (and enforce) disciplinary practices.
The NCMB's jurisdiction extends throughout all of North Carolina. If you're a licensed physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant practicing in the state, your practice is overseen by this board.
Your takeaway should be this: The NCMB absolutely has the authority to suspend or revoke your license, which, if it happens, would have immediate repercussions for your career.
What Rules and Standards Do North Carolina Physicians Need to Follow?
To avoid investigations by the NCMB and enjoy retention of their licenses, North Carolina physicians need to abide by the following general regulations set forth by the NCMB:
- Proper licensing procedures. North Carolina physicians need to graduate from an approved medical school. They need to complete residency, pass standardizing medical licensing tests, and provide all application materials necessary to obtain their license. They must also renew licenses on a regular basis after demonstrating that they're constantly investing in professional education (as required).
- Standards of patient care. According to the NCMB's regulations, North Carolina physicians must act with due regard to patient confidentiality, informed consent, and appropriate record-keeping and abide by appropriate physician-patient relationship standards.
- Keeping current with best practices. North Carolina physicians must keep current with the latest developments pertinent to their field of study and adhere to established best practices. Doctors must also ensure that they do not practice beyond their appropriate area of competence without clear supervision or training.
- Abiding by professional ethics and good conduct. In order to retain their license, North Carolina physicians must avoid any type of professional misconduct — e.g., avoiding undisclosed conflicts of interest, refusing to engage in fraudulent activities, and upholding appropriate boundaries with their patients.
- Investing in rehabilitation, if needed. If a physician is suffering from substance abuse or other challenges, such as mental or physical illnesses, that could impact their ability to provide patient care, those physicians must report these issues and demonstrate that they are pursuing treatment as needed.
Any failure to comply with these or related regulations can prompt disciplinary actions from the NCMB. And, unfortunately, even if you're the subject of a false allegation concerning any of these infractions, you may risk an investigation and subsequent reputation damage.
If an investigation concerning any of the above is in your future, you need to retain the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm as soon as possible so we can start creating your strongest possible defense.
What Types of Allegations Could Impact North Carolina Physician Licenses?
If a patient, a colleague, or another party files an official allegation against you, that isn't something to ignore.
Even if it seems small or you know it's unwarranted, the NCMB will take it seriously. An investigation can have a huge impact on your career, so you will need to act quickly to handle your case as strategically as possible before matters spiral out of hand.
The most common allegations that we see North Carolina physicians face include:
- Unprofessional conduct is an umbrella term that covers several forms of misconduct, including misuse of patient data, fraud, dual relationships, improper procedures surrounding informed consent, or other similar actions.
- Negligence, or actions including the failure to provide the appropriate standard of care, incorrect diagnoses, errors with prescriptions, or even surgical mistakes.
- Substance abuse, or any situation in which a physician is found practicing medicine while they're under the influence.
- Criminal charges, which, even if they are not directly related to a physician's work, can be seen as emblematic of a physician's character — particularly if related to crimes of moral turpitude.
- Failure to meet ongoing ed requirements. Those CEU guidelines are more than just guidelines; the NCMB will be checking on compliance!
- Any evidence of deception in the licensure process. If anyone can demonstrate that you provided potentially false information during your original license application process or during any subsequent renewal, you could risk license suspension (or worse).
- Improper medical record management. Mismanaging patient records can result in substandard care. If your office does not maintain comprehensive, accurate records, that could trigger an investigation from the NCMB.
- Improper prescribing practices. Allegations of overprescribing, prescribing without need, or prescribing controlled substances can lead to investigations, too.
If the allegations against physicians are substantiated, they could face fines, license suspension, probation, or even permanent license revocation. Even if the allegations are demonstrably false, though, being associated with these allegations can lead to lasting reputation harm for North Carolina physicians. If you're facing this type of situation, you need the Professional License Defense Team from the Lento Law Firm on your side at once.
What's At Stake: The Immense Value of a North Carolina Physician License
It's easy to take your physician license for granted, especially if it's been a while since you initially got your North Carolina license. All of your colleagues have one (of course), and it can seem like, simply a rite of passage to apply for, receive, and maintain your license.
That couldn't be further from the truth. That piece of paper is a testament to the years of rigorous education and the immense resources you've poured into your education. It allows you to earn a living and build a reputation. And, if you get your license taken away, even if you're able to get it reinstated shortly, the consequences can be dire.
For example, if a physician loses their license:
- They can no longer practice medicine in the short term, which can seriously derail longer-term goals.
- Their earning potential could take a hit, which might impact their lifestyle, their ability to repay student loans and other timely bills, and more.
- Their reputation would take a substantial hit. This can make the physician's ability to progress in their career extremely difficult and even shake their standing within their current professional community.
- Their patient relationships could be severed. Doctors often treat the same patients for years and develop strong, mutually beneficial doctor-patient relationships. When physicians lose their licenses, that can disrupt patient care and make it difficult for people who need help to find the support they need.
Clearly, the stakes are high. Fortunately, our team can help you avoid these consequences by helping you build a strong defense. We'll also help you know what the complex North Carolina license disciplinary process entails, which will help you prepare to protect your future as strategically as possible.
What Happens After Someone Files a Complaint Against a Physician in North Carolina?
After someone files a complaint against you, the NCMB's investigative process could kick in very quickly.
Here's a general overview of what to expect.
- The process starts when someone files a complaint. Anyone can file a complaint with the NCMB against a North Carolina physician. Common people or groups that do so include patients, other healthcare professionals, and even institutions. The complaint may center on any of the common allegations we've discussed here or others.
- The NCMB will perform an initial review of the complaint. Once the board receives a complaint, it will conduct a review to see whether the complaint is serious, warrants further investigation, and if the physician at the center of the complaint is in the board's jurisdiction.
- If the NCMB believes the complaint warrants an investigation, then the board will initiate one. Depending on the specifics of the complaint, this may involve talking to the person who filed the complaint, the physician, or other healthcare providers and maybe even reviewing relevant medical records.
- After this, the board will review all of the information that has come to light. They'll evaluate what they've learned to help determine whether the physician has engaged in any actions that violate their regulations or impact patient safety.
- If necessary, the board will then recommend further action. The board's disciplinary actions can include private or public reprimands, suspension or revocation of physician licenses, or recommending mandatory education or therapy. In some cases, the board may escalate the matter from here to a formal hearing. In other cases, the board may decide to dismiss the complaint entirely.
How Can North Carolina Doctors Defend Themselves Against License-Threatening Allegations?
If you're facing an allegation that is likely to pique NCMB's interest and potentially result in disastrous consequences for you, you need to start working on your defense immediately.
The fact that you're here shows that you've already taken a big step toward success. You're taking this seriously, which is good: It means that you won't be blindsided by harsh ramifications after ignoring an NCMB investigation.
Your next step is equally crucial. You need to seek the legal counsel of the Lento Law Firm. The Professional License Defense Team has years of experience helping physicians both nationwide and in North Carolina avoid license revocation and similar unwanted outcomes. Our team can help guide you through the confusing process ahead.
Here's a quick timeline of events and tasks you can tackle as you work toward a successful outcome.
- Understand the complaint filed against you. When the NCMB reaches out to inform you that you're the center of an investigation, they should let you know what the allegations against you are. The information provided may include the person or entity that filed the complaint, what they claim happened, and any evidence that has been provided to back up that claim.
- Pull together as much evidence as possible to substantiate your side of the story. This may include testimonies from patients, your colleagues, patient records, or any other relevant information our team recommends gathering.
- Get ready for a hearing, if necessary. Your case may or may not escalate to a hearing in the pre-appeal stage, but if you are called upon to appear before the NCMB, you need to be ready to provide a compelling argument for the board to reduce sanctions against you or throw out the complaint. Our team can help you prepare for any questions or accusations you may hear during your hearing.
If this level of preparation and strategy is enough to help you achieve your sought-after outcome, excellent. If the NCMB recommends license suspension or revocation anyway, you still have a few actions you can implement — including filing a persuasive appeal to formally ask the board to reconsider its recommendation.
Can You Appeal North Carolina Medical Board Decisions?
Yes. If the NCMB issues a recommendation that you think is undeserved or you feel it would disproportionately affect you and your future, you can file an official appeal. It's not an easy process, however. There's not a single, easy-to-find form you can download or email you can send to initiate the process.
That's where our team can provide game-changing assistance. Here's a general overview of what to expect during your North Carolina physician license suspension appeal process.
- You'll start by requesting a hearing. In North Carolina, generally, appeals are handled through another in-person hearing, though there are always exceptions. Our team can help you gauge the best way to request this and help you file this request in a timely manner.
- Prepare for your appeal hearing. This is a stage where working with our Professional License Defense Team to really do your research will pay off. Our team can help you review the NCMB's regulations, their previous decisions, the evidence presented against you, and more. We can also help you determine if there is any new evidence that could help your case and help you formulate the main argument of your appeal so it's as strong as possible.
- Attend your hearing. During your appeal hearing, you'll be able to present your case. The board and, potentially, even the original claimant will also be able to present their cases. In this hearing, you'll get a chance to review evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and make arguments.
- At the end of your appeal hearing, the NCMB will decide to uphold its original decision, reverse it, or modify it. If the resultant sanction works for you and your goals, you may be able to stop the process here. If not, there are still actions you can take.
- If you need to issue further appeals, our team can help you determine which avenues have the best chance of success for your unique case. For example, depending on the nature of your situation, you may be able to appeal to the North Carolina Superior Court, the North Carolina Court of Appeals, or even, if needed, appeal to the North Carolina Supreme Court. Our Professional License Defense Team can help you understand your options and pursue a strategic course of action until you experience your ideal outcome.
North Carolina Physicians: Here's How a Physician License Defense Attorney Can Help You
If you're facing steep disciplinary consequences after allegations relating to your career as a physician in North Carolina, you need to speak with the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm at once. North Carolina will not hesitate to use its full range of resources to investigate your alleged actions and potentially revoke your right to continue practicing medicine.
You deserve representation and a real chance to protect your reputation and your professional future.
That's what the Lento Law Firm Team can help you achieve. As your professional defense team, we can:
- Communicate with the North Carolina Licensing Board to present evidence and arguments on your behalf
- Work towards the dismissal of allegations against you
- Help with negotiations and any hearings that may occur in your case
- Identify and gather evidence and mitigating factors that could help your case
Assist with any appeals or challenges to further your progress toward your end goal of license reinstatement or an alternative successful resolution.
The Lento Law Firm's North Carolina Practice Areas
If you're a physician practicing in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, or any other city in North Carolina, the Lento Law Firm Team will be pleased to provide premier representation.
We're also able to assist physicians who work at the following North Carolina hospital systems:
- Duke University Hospital
- Vidant Medical Center
- UNC Medical Center
- Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center
- Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
- Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center
- Mission Hospital Asheville
- New Hanover Regional Medical Center
- Moses H. Cone Medical Hospital
- Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center
If you do not see your institution on this list, reach out anyway! The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can provide assistance to physicians working in many locations throughout the state of North Carolina.
Need a License Defense Team for North Carolina Physician Charges?
Regardless of your specific practice area, you need a valid, current license to work as a physician in North Carolina. If someone files an allegation against you, the NC licensing board can take action to revoke your license or otherwise make it difficult to practice. This will have both immediate and far-reaching consequences on your reputation and your livelihood.
Fortunately, the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team is available to help you fight for your future. If you require assistance as you work toward a successful outcome, call 888.535.3686 today or fill out this brief form at your earliest convenience.