If you're licensed in Pennsylvania as an osteopathic physician or surgeon, you already know your career is one that relies heavily on public trust. That's why the Pennsylvania State Board of Osteopathic Medicine holds its licensees to such high standards of professionalism and excellence. That's why it's so important to have an experienced Pennsylvania license defense attorney on your side if you should ever face an investigation or disciplinary action related to your license.
The Board's investigative and disciplinary process can be confusing and intimidating, even for seasoned medical professionals. A single misunderstanding or lapse in judgment can result in having a complaint lodged against you--and a single complaint is all it may take to put your license in jeopardy. Having a knowledgeable and experienced advocate at your side is essential in ensuring that you receive fair treatment and that your side is heard.
If you're a licensed professional in Pennsylvania who is facing misconduct allegations, Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the experience and success record you need on your side. His negotiating skills can greatly improve your chances of coming through a license investigation with your license to practice intact. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
What Allegations Could Jeopardize Your Medical License in Pennsylvania?
The Pennsylvania Board of Osteopathic Medicine expects those with a license to practice osteopathy in the state to maintain high ethical and professional standards. Most complaints resulting in disciplinary action concern an alleged violation of these standards or public trust in general. These include, but are not limited to:
- Fraud. Some examples of medical billing fraud include upcoding insurance to receive larger reimbursements, accepting kickbacks, billing patients for unnecessary services, falsifying diagnoses, etc.
- Inaccurate record-keeping. If medical records are inaccurate, it can jeopardize patients' health. This is why doctors must be diligent in keeping accurate records, and avoiding altering or falsifying any information. Being accused of such could endanger your license.
- Substance abuse/addiction. Abusing alcohol and/or drugs casts doubt on a physician's credibility, not to mention their ability to make sound decisions regarding their patient.
- Sexual misconduct. Some examples of sexual harassment in the medical field include unwanted sexual advances from a doctor to a patient, or between coworkers. The AMA also regards any romantic relationship between a doctor and a patient as unethical behavior.
- Abuse or neglect of patients. Not only could a physician's license be in jeopardy if any verbal or physical abuse is alleged, but so too could be claims of gross neglect.
- Criminal convictions. Some criminal offenses could disqualify you from holding an osteopathic physician's license.
- Inappropriate handling of medication. Some examples of misconduct are maintaining sloppy inventories, prescribing medicine without proper justification, or taking medications for personal use.
The Disciplinary Process for Licensed Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons in Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a streamlined process by which people can file complaints if they have issues with licensed professionals, which includes osteopathic practitioners. The Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) is responsible for investigating all complaints regarding professional misconduct. Complaints against osteopathic physicians and surgeons typically come from patients, former patients, coworkers, other practitioners, and insurance companies. After a complaint is filed, the disciplinary process goes through the following stages.
First, the BPOA appoints an investigator from the Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI) to investigate the complaint. The BEI investigator typically interviews anyone involved in the complaint, such as the complainant or any witnesses, along with issuing requests for documentation. If the BEI investigator does not find enough evidence to prove the claims, the issue might be closed at this moment. If evidence is found, however, then the next steps in the process will be taken.
If the Board has enough evidence against you to where disciplinary action is probable, they'll most likely offer for you to sign a consent agreement in lieu of holding a formal hearing. A consent agreement is a binding legal agreement between you and the state in which you agree to whatever disciplinary action is decided by the Board. Therefore, if you have evidence to refute the complaint, then a consent agreement may not be the best option for you. However, if the evidence against you is compelling, a consent agreement may be the most viable choice, especially if your attorney can negotiate the agreement to allow you to keep your license (or at least provide terms for reinstatement).
If you don't sign a consent agreement, the next step will be for the BPOA to summon you to a formal hearing. During this hearing, they will ask you to show cause why your osteopathic physician and surgeon's license shouldn't be revoked. You may have an attorney with you at this hearing. The Board then issues a final decision regarding disciplinary actions to be taken against you--up to and including revoking your license to practice.
Why Should You Hire a Pennsylvania License Defense Attorney?
The license defense process puts you at a disadvantage from the start. The Board is obligated to protect the public, and they are charged with taking disciplinary action if it believes public safety could be compromised. There is no guaranteed presumption of innocence in a license investigation, and the Board can decide to take action against you based only on a preponderance of the evidence. You need a professional license defense attorney on your side who can argue in your favor and present evidence that refutes any claims against you.
A good license defense attorney understands how state license investigations work and can help you navigate a more favorable resolution for the complaint against you. Your attorney can gather evidence on your behalf, draft a compelling written response to the complaint, negotiate directly with the Board to get the complaint dismissed (or for lenient penalties), negotiate favorable terms of a consent agreement, and, if necessary, defend you at a formal hearing.
If you are currently under investigation or being disciplined by the Pennsylvania State Board of Osteopathic Medicine, do not take this process lightly. Ensure that you have adequate help and support to protect your career path. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team can work on your behalf to get you a more favorable outcome and improve your chances of saving your license and your career. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.