Being a licensed pharmacist in Pennsylvania can be a rewarding career, but it also comes with a huge weight of responsibility and public trust. In a very real way, patients are entrusting you with their lives every day, which is why the Pennsylvania State Board of Pharmacy holds its licensees to strict standards of excellence and professionalism.
Unfortunately, mistakes sometimes happen, and pharmacists can find themselves facing disciplinary action from the Board. This can be a daunting experience for any pharmacist because the disciplinary process is complex, time-consuming, and stressful. What's worse, all it may take is a single complaint to trigger an investigation that could result in the loss of your license--and, by extension, your career.
At times like these, your future demands a smart, swift response--which means you need an experienced Pennsylvania license defense attorney in your corner. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has many years of experience helping people like you who are facing possible disciplinary action, and he and his team will work to get you the best possible solution. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
What Allegations Could Jeopardize Your Pharmacist License in Pennsylvania?
Pharmacists are held to extremely high standards as they are entrusted with dispensing controlled substances to patients in an accurate and safe manner. Most allegations that result in license discipline will have something to do with violating these standards. Common examples include:
- Incompetence. Dispensing medications accurately is the hallmark of a good pharmacist, and since the slightest discrepancy can harm a patient, there's no room for error. Mistakes such as miscalculating dosages, miscalculating the number of doses, giving a patient the wrong prescription, or failing to notice a doctor's error--any of these can put your license in jeopardy.
- Fraud. Examples of pharmacist fraud include overcharging patients for medications, making unauthorized substitutions, billing insurance for brand-name drugs while dispensing the generic version, etc.
- Improper record-keeping. State regulations require pharmacists to maintain accurate records of dispensed medications and controlled substances. If the Board finds that you've been sloppy with record-keeping, it could result in discipline up to and including license revocation. Additionally, if you violate patient privacy through HIPAA violations, your license could be revoked.
- Criminal convictions. Being convicted of certain crimes can put your pharmacist's license in jeopardy, especially crimes directly related to your profession or crimes of "moral turpitude."
The Disciplinary Process for Pennsylvania Pharmacists
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has created a standardized system for members of the public to lodge complaints about any licensed professional, including pharmacists. These allegations are investigated and managed by the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA). Once the BPOA receives a complaint, the disciplinary process goes through the following stages.
The first step in the process is for the BPOA to assign a Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI) investigator to look for evidence to support the complaint. This individual will typically interview relevant parties, including the complainant and any potential witnesses, as well as request documents from you that are pertinent to the case. Additionally, you may be asked to submit an official written response to the complaint. Should the BEI investigator conclude that there is an inadequate amount of proof to corroborate the allegations, the complaint may be dismissed at this point.
If the BEI investigator discovers significant evidence against you, the Board may offer to negotiate a consent agreement with you as an alternative to holding a formal hearing. When you enter into a consent agreement with the state, you voluntarily agree to be held accountable for any disciplinary action determined by the Board. Since this agreement is binding, your attorney may recommend against it if you can provide substantive proof of your innocence. However, if disciplinary action is inevitable, a good attorney may be able to negotiate the consent agreement to allow you to keep your license or at least provide a path to reinstatement.
With no consent agreement signed, you will be required to attend a formal hearing before a state examiner. Here, you must show cause why your pharmacist's license should not be revoked. You can have an attorney appear with you at this hearing. After deliberation, the Board will then make a final decision as to whether to impose disciplinary actions against you--up to and including revoking your license.
Why You Need a Pennsylvania License Defense Attorney
When faced with a license defense, you are placed in an unfavorable position. The Pennsylvania State Board of Pharmacy is committed to protecting the public and may come to the conclusion that you have committed wrongdoings based solely on a preponderance of the evidence. The Board has been granted an enormous level of discretion to determine appropriate punishments and who should or shouldn't receive a license. To put it simply, there's no assurance of presumed innocence and impartiality in the process.
Having an experienced Pennsylvania license defense attorney can make the difference between saving or losing your career as a pharmacist. The involvement of an attorney levels the playing field and helps ensure your side is fairly heard. A good attorney can also gather evidence and witnesses in your favor, as well as negotiate directly with the BPOA and the Board to minimize the penalties against you--or to dismiss the complaint completely. Ultimately, having a knowledgeable license defense attorney on your side significantly raises the odds of getting a favorable outcome and keeping your license.
If you are undergoing an investigation or disciplinary action by the Pennsylvania State Board of Pharmacy, do not jeopardize your future by facing this situation alone. Take steps now to rescue your career. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team will work tirelessly to get you the best possible terms to resolve the complaint against you. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.