Physical therapy is a career that relies heavily on public trust--and as a licensed physical therapist in Pennsylvania, you've worked hard to earn that trust. You've invested loads of time and money into building a career helping people get better. That's why it can be so demoralizing and traumatizing to discover that you are the subject of a professional license investigation.
A single complaint against you can trigger a cascade of consequences that can almost immediately throw your career into jeopardy. Whether the complaint is based on a simple misunderstanding or a temporary lapse in judgment, the Pennsylvania State Board of Physical Therapy has an obligation to investigate it, and it has broad authority to revoke your license based only on a preponderance of the evidence.
If you are currently facing a professional license investigation, it is important to take swift action. Your livelihood and reputation may be at stake. Hiring an experienced Pennsylvania professional license defense attorney can make the difference between keeping your physical therapist license and losing it. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has years of experience and a track record of success defending licensed professionals in Pennsylvania who are accused of misconduct. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
What Allegations Could Jeopardize Your Physical Therapist License in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania holds its licensed physical therapists to high ethical and professional standards. Most accusations that result in disciplinary action against one's license will have something to do with an alleged violation of these standards or of the public trust in general. These include, but are not limited to:
- Sexual misconduct. Since physical therapy involves a lot of touching, there could be confusing boundaries as to what patients and colleagues view as appropriate touching. Additionally, engaging in a romantic/sexual relationship with someone you're treating is a huge breach of ethics and is grounds for termination of your license.
- Substance abuse. Abusing alcohol or drugs (even when off-duty) can jeopardize your license because it casts doubt on your ability to serve patients safely.
- Patient abuse. If a patient or colleague accuses you of verbal or physical abuse, your professional license could be at stake.
- Improper record keeping. If you don't keep accurate records, it gives the appearance that you're trying to cheat either insurance companies or patients. Worse yet, sloppy record-keeping can cause patients to get incorrect treatments or medications.
The Disciplinary Process for Licensed Physical Therapists in Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has implemented a uniform process in which any member of the public can file a complaint against any licensed professional, including physical therapists. All such complaints go through the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA), which is responsible for processing and investigating all allegations of misconduct. The most common complainants against physical therapists are patients, former patients, coworkers, other practitioners, etc. After a complaint is filed with the BPOA, the disciplinary process goes through the following stages.
To start, the BPOA appoints an investigator from the Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI) to look into the complaint. The BEI investigator typically interviews anyone involved, such as the complainant or any witnesses. They may also subpoena any related documents and ask you to submit a formal written response to the complaint. If the BEI investigator finds insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations, the matter may be considered closed at this point--but if evidence is found, the process moves ahead.
The Board has the option to offer to have you sign a consent agreement as an alternative to being summoned to a formal hearing. They usually make this offer if they find sufficient evidence against you, and disciplinary action is likely. A consent agreement is a legal agreement between you and the state in which you agree to any disciplinary action decided by the Board. Since a consent agreement is binding, it's not always the best option if you can provide evidence to refute the complaint. However, if disciplinary action is inevitable, a good attorney can often negotiate favorable terms within a consent agreement, either to provide a path for reinstatement or to allow you to keep your license.
If you don't have a consent agreement (or if one isn't offered), the next step is to summon you to a formal hearing in front of a state examiner. During this hearing, you will be asked to show cause as to why your physical therapist's license shouldn't be revoked. You may have an attorney represent you at this hearing. After deliberation, the Board will then make a final decision regarding disciplinary actions. These range from formal reprimands to more severe punishments such as suspending or revoking your license.
Why Should You Hire a Pennsylvania License Defense Attorney?
By its very nature, the license defense process puts you at a disadvantage. The first responsibility of the Pennsylvania State Board of Physical Therapy is to protect the public, and once an investigation is launched, the Board can find you guilty of wrongdoing based only on a preponderance of the evidence. The state gives the Board a great deal of latitude to decide what penalties to impose and who should or should not be allowed to have a license. In other words, you have no guarantee of presumed innocence and no guarantee of fairness in the process.
That is why it is so important to have an experienced Pennsylvania license defense attorney on your side. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the entire disciplinary process, protect your rights, and ensure that you receive fair treatment. They can help you draft a convincing written response to the complaint, gather evidence to exonerate you, and take advantage of opportunities to negotiate a favorable resolution with the BPOA and the Board--including lenient penalties or having the complaint dismissed altogether. In short, the chances of keeping your license go up considerably with the right professional license defense attorney in your corner.
If you are facing an investigation or disciplinary action by the Pennsylvania State Board of Physical Therapy, don't risk your future by facing this process alone. Get the help and support you need to protect your career. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team can work on your behalf to get you a more favorable outcome with a higher likelihood of saving your license and your career. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.