Between eight years of formal education and sitting for grueling exams, qualifying to become a licensed Pennsylvania audiologist was not an easy task. But you're now engaged in a fulfilling and rewarding career helping people with their hearing issues. Even so, your profession relies on public trust, and when someone accuses you of violating that trust, it can put your license at risk.
Indeed, all it may take is a single complaint to set the wheels in motion for possible disciplinary action against your license. The Pennsylvania State Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology takes its duty seriously to protect public safety, and they have broad authority to do so. Whether the complaint was triggered by an honest mistake, a simple misunderstanding, or a lapse in judgment--if you leave things up to chance, chances are that complaint could escalate into having your license revoked, effectively ending your career.
Fortunately, you have a better option. With the right license defense attorney on your side, you stand a much better chance of keeping your audiologist's license and continuing your practice. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a Pennsylvania professional license defense attorney with extensive experience navigating cases like yours, and he and his Professional License Defense Team will work tirelessly to get you the favorable outcome you deserve. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
What Types of Complaints Could Jeopardize an Audiologist's License?
A majority of claims that could lead to the termination of an audiologist's license are based on breaching the state's regulations on professional conduct or committing a breach of public trust. This includes a variety of possible allegations of misconduct, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Gross negligence and/or incompetence. If you're accused of committing errors that result in harm to patients or put them at unnecessary risk, the Board may consider revoking your license.
- Fraudulent or deceptive practices. Behaviors such as falsifying records, making false claims about your services, misrepresenting your credentials, overcharging patients or insurance, or billing for services not performed could result in disciplinary action.
- Sexual misconduct. You can face loss of license over complaints of sexual harassment of patients and/or colleagues, or for allegations that you were in an unethical romantic relationship with a patient you were treating.
- Substance abuse. Engaging in substance abuse, whether it be drugs or excessive alcohol consumption, could diminish your capacity to carry out your duties safely and securely, and therefore such an allegation could put your license at risk.
- Criminal convictions. If you are convicted of a crime, especially a "crime of moral turpitude" such as theft, fraud, or abuse, your license could be suspended or revoked.
What Does the Disciplinary Process Look Like for Pennsylvania Audiologists?
The Pennsylvania government offers its citizens a streamlined process to lodge complaints against audiologists, as well as all other licensed professionals. All such complaints are fielded and processed via the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA). Upon the BPOA's receipt of a complaint against you, your case will go through a series of stages as follows.
The BPOA will begin the investigation process by assigning a Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI) investigator to collect evidence related to the complaint. This includes speaking with the complainant or any witnesses, issuing document subpoenas, etc. You may be required to submit a written response regarding the complaint in addition. Should the inquiry fail to present sufficient proof to validate the allegations, the BPOA can opt to dismiss the complaint.
If the BEI investigator unearths extensive evidence of misconduct against you, the Board may suggest signing a consent agreement with you rather than opening an official hearing. Under this agreement, you will voluntarily accept the disciplinary measures proposed by the Board. While signing a consent agreement is not always ideal, it might be your most viable solution if penalties are unavoidable. Working with a skilled attorney can provide an opportunity to leverage effective negotiation with the Board to minimize the damage to your career and even provide a pathway for restoring your license.
In the absence of a consent agreement, the next stage is for you to be summoned to a formal hearing in front of a state examiner, where you will be asked to show cause why you should be allowed to continue practicing as a licensed audiologist. It's highly recommended to have an attorney with you at this hearing to advocate for you. When the hearing concludes, the Board will make a final determination as to punitive measures, up to and including revoking your license.
Why Hire a Pennsylvania License Defense Attorney
It can be a daunting experience to go through the licensing disciplinary process, being that your career and reputation depend on it. Unfortunately, you come into this situation at a disadvantage because there is no guaranteed presumption of innocence, nor does the Board have an immense burden of proof in order to deem you guilty. Hiring a qualified Pennsylvania license defense attorney can substantially increase your chances of success. Your attorney can help you to better understand the nuances of the laws and regulations relevant to your case, act as your official representative before the Board, gather crucial evidence to refute the complaint, and employ skilled negotiations with the Board either to have the complaint dismissed or to minimize the severity of any penalties. In short, with the right attorney, you have a much better chance of emerging from the disciplinary process with your audiologist's license still intact.
You have invested much time and energy in building your career as a Pennsylvania audiologist. If you're facing an accusation that could threaten your license, Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team can provide the protective counsel to defend it. Take action now to preserve all of your hard-earned accomplishments. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.