Caring for the elderly and the disabled is a noble profession. It's also a huge responsibility. That's why it's no easy task to become a licensed nursing home administrator in Pennsylvania. By the time you receive your license from the Pennsylvania State Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators, you've invested tons of money into your education, sat through grueling exams, and spent countless hours of field experience. And once you're licensed, you must adhere to strict regulations and the state's high standards of ethical and professional excellence.
That's why it can be so devastating to find out you've been accused of wrongdoing.
Your livelihood hinges on your license, but all it may take is a single complaint to trigger an invasive investigation, one that could ultimately result in having your license revoked. How can you protect your interests and your career?
If you're a licensed nursing home administrator in Pennsylvania facing allegations of misconduct, your best hope of keeping your license is to hire an experienced professional license defense attorney to protect your interests. Joseph D. Lento, an experienced Pennsylvania attorney with a wealth of knowledge in disciplinary action cases, is dedicated to obtaining favorable results for his clients. He and his team will use all available resources to ensure you receive the best possible outcome. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
What Could Put My Nursing Home Administrator License in Jeopardy?
Most allegations that could endanger your license as a Pennsylvania nursing home administrator will be related to violations of resident safety, violations of ethical conduct, or violations of public trust. Examples include:
- Immediate Jeopardy (IJ) citations. When the compliance board issues an IJ citation to your nursing home facility, it is indicative of a lack of safety standards that could be putting residents at risk. Even if you were able to swiftly remediate the situation, the state licensing board will likely still investigate and hold you accountable for any shortcomings in regard to this particular IJ citation.
- Fraud. Common examples of nursing home fraud include overcharging patients or insurance, falsifying or inflating patient diagnoses for insurance purposes, false advertising, taking kickbacks, etc.
- Substance abuse/addiction. If you are accused of chronic drug or alcohol use, or worse yet, if it's alleged that your consumption caused an incident at work, then the consequences could be dire and can compromise your license.
- Sexual misconduct/improper relations. This broad category could include unwanted sexual advances toward patients, employees, or colleagues, sexual assault, or unethical romances with patients.
- Criminal convictions. Possessing a criminal record does not automatically mean you are barred from being a nursing home administrator, but if you're convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, it could trigger a board investigation and possible disciplinary action.
- Noncompliance with continuing education. If you fail to keep up with Pennsylvania's continuing education requirements for nursing home administrators, it could disqualify you from keeping your license.
What Does the Disciplinary Process Look Like?
Pennsylvania has developed a streamlined system that allows citizens to file grievances against any licensed professional, including nursing home administrators. The Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) is responsible for handling and processing these complaints. Once the BPOA receives a complaint against you, the disciplinary process moves through the following stages.
First, the BPOA will assign a Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI) investigator to look into the complaint and look for substantiating evidence. The investigation usually includes interviewing the complainant and any witnesses, as well as requesting certain documents from you. You may also be asked to submit a written response to the complaint. If the BEI investigator discovers insufficient evidence to validate the claims, then the complaint may be dismissed.
If the BEI investigator identifies substantial evidence against you, the Board may propose to settle with you via a consent agreement as opposed to initiating a formal hearing. With this agreement, you are voluntarily accepting the disciplinary action imposed by the Board. Signing a consent agreement isn't always the best resolution, but if disciplinary action or license revocation is inevitable, a well-negotiated consent agreement can minimize the damage to your career, especially if it contains provisions for reinstating your license.
If there is no consent agreement, the next step is to attend a formal hearing before a state examiner and show cause why your nursing home administrator license should not be revoked. It is your right to have an attorney accompany you during this hearing. Upon careful contemplation, the Board will then declare a definite resolution concerning whether sanctions should be imposed on you--even revoking your license, if necessary.
Why You Need a Pennsylvania License Defense Attorney
When faced with a license investigation, you are immediately at a disadvantage because, unlike criminal prosecutions, there is no guaranteed presumption of innocence. The first duty of the Pennsylvania State Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators is to protect the public in general and your patients and residents specifically. The Board has broad authority to impose discipline, and they can find you guilty only on a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, if they believe you're more likely than not to have committed wrongdoing, they can revoke your license, effectively ending your career.
Having an experienced Pennsylvania license defense attorney puts you back on a level playing field, and having the right attorney can greatly improve your chances of keeping your license. A good attorney will develop a compelling response to the complaint against you, gather witnesses and evidence to support your side, and negotiate for leniency or a dismissal of the complaint with the BPOA, possibly even bypassing the need to have a formal hearing. And if a hearing is called, the attorney can provide your best defense against disciplinary action.
Don't risk your career by tackling the Pennsylvania license investigation process on your own. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team can greatly increase the chances that you will come through the investigation with your nursing home administrator license intact. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.