Pharmacist License Defense In Rhode Island

Pharmacists, as guardians of patients' safety and public health, must maintain their licenses and ability to fill prescriptions. However, the reality is that sometimes, pharmacists face discipline that can cost them their licenses. These challenges, often involving drug or alcohol abuse, criminal charges or convictions, failure to keep records, or diversion of medications, are serious and require immediate attention.

If you are a Pharmacist in Rhode Island facing a challenge to your license, you need the experienced team at the Lento Law Firm. The Lento Law Firm is experienced in license defense and has represented many Pharmacists and medical professionals. The earlier in the process that the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team is involved, the better. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or provide your details online, and we will contact you.

Board of Pharmacy Discipline Powers

In Rhode Island, the Board of Pharmacy (the Board) handles all licensure issues for pharmacists and oversees all disciplinary cases. The Board has wide latitude in taking action against pharmacists.

Disciplinary Powers of the Board

The Board may take the following disciplinary actions against a pharmacist:

  1. Revoke a license.
  2. Suspend a license.
  3. Refuse to issue a license.
  4. Refuse to renew a license.
  5. Enforce other discipline.

Grounds for the Discipline of a Pharmacist

In Rhode Island, the following are grounds for the discipline of a pharmacist:

  1. The license application contained false or fraudulent information.
    • The first ground for discipline is filing a license application with false information.
  2. The licensee has violated federal or state law regarding controlled substances or other legal violations or has been convicted of a felony.
    • One of the most common reasons for the loss of a pharmacist's license is any type of legal violation pertaining to controlled substances. Allegations of this type are particularly challenging in terms of license defense. Contact counsel as quickly as possible if you find yourself with any type of drug charge.
  3. A court has found the licensee to be mentally incompetent.
    • If you have any type of mental health emergency that involves a judicial hold or finding, you need to consult an experienced licensed attorney.
  4. The licensee has drug or alcohol abuse issues.
    • If you were charged with DUI or some type of offense based on public drunkenness, consult a professional licensed attorney as soon as possible.
  5. The licensee made and/or filed false reports or records.
    • Most people find it difficult to believe how often professional license issues are caused by poor record keeping. This is not minor and can present serious licensing issues, especially for those in health professions.
  6. The licensee is incompetent or negligent and has failed to follow professional standards.
    • This broad category can involve quite serious issues of competency. You might face a charge of this type if you have a settlement reported to the national database. This type of charge might also arise after a patient complaint.
  7. The licensee has been found guilty in another state of conduct that would result in discipline if committed in Rhode Island.
    • Because of national databases and reporting agreements and requirements, charges in another jurisdiction are unlikely to remain unknown in Rhode Island. If you are charged in another jurisdiction, your best course of conduct is to discuss the issue with an attorney as soon as possible.
  8. The licensee has violated or permitted the violation of any provision of any state or federal law regarding controlled substances.
    • Charges made against others in your practice may come back to haunt you. If a colleague is charged with a practice violation, consult an attorney.
  9. The licensee has allowed an unlicensed person to take charge of a pharmacy or engage in the practice of pharmacy.
    • As stated above, if an individual has been charged with unlicensed activity at your pharmacy, you should consult an attorney.
  10. The licensee has engaged in unprofessional conduct by failing to maintain the standards of practice.
    • Allegations of unprofessional conduct may come down to factual disputes. Make sure you are documenting issues properly.
  11. The ownership of the pharmacy by practitioners exceeds that allowed by law.
    • Questions on ownership are technical and difficult. If issues of ownership in violation of Rhode Island law are made to your practice, you should secure experienced counsel as quickly as possible.
  12. The licensee has been convicted or pleaded Nolo contendere to the violation of any state or federal law.
    • If you face a charge of any type, make sure you are acting reasonably and concentrate on mitigating damage. As always, call the Lento Law Firm to explore ways of limiting the damage to your license and life.

Collaborative Practice

It is legal in Rhode Island to enter into a collaborative practice agreement with one or more physicians. These agreements may take the form of pain management practices. The Board of Pharmacy must approve these collaborative practice agreements in advance. The BMLD must also approve the collaborative practice. These agreements involve substantial record-keeping obligations and are easily inadvertently violated. If you find yourself in a dispute with a licensing agency on a collaborative practice issue, call the Lento Law Firm.

Complaint Process

Step One: Investigation

The Board of Pharmacy may initiate an action based on a complaint, criminal charge, or other reason. The Board may conduct an investigation to determine if probable cause exists to begin disciplinary proceedings against a licensee or a person practicing without a license.

Step Two: Notice of a Contested Case

If the Board determines that a violation was more likely than not, it must give the licensee notice of a contested case. This notice should provide information on which the charge is based.

Step Three: Answer

Typically, the Board will ask for an Answer to the Notice within 20 days. This Answer is usually written and should be reviewed by counsel prior to its filing. If the licensee does not respond, the Board may proceed to enter a final order without it.

Step Four: Informal Resolution/Settlement Discussions

The Board and the licensee may negotiate and come to an agreement as to how to handle the complaint and charges. Especially for more modest charges, the licensee may be able to negotiate for lesser discipline, such as a reprimand, instead of a suspension. The Board may ask that the complaint be handled through informal dispute resolution, such as mediation. In other instances, the Board may ask the licensee or firm to sign a Consent Agreement or Consent Order. This Consent Order may involve drug or alcohol treatment or additional training. Before signing any Consent Order or other settlement agreement, the pharmacist should consult an attorney. These agreements involve the loss of appeal and due process rights and should be entered only with counsel's advice.

The Hearing Officer may appoint another hearing officer to act as a mediator upon request. Alternatively, the Hearing Officer may also act as a mediator with the parties' consent. The parties should agree in advance if this will result in the Hearing Officer deciding the case in the event the parties cannot agree to a settlement. The parties may also agree in advance that a substitute Hearing Officer may be provided if settlement does not occur.

Step Five: Hearing

Under Rhode Island regulations, any pharmacist facing discipline has a right to a Hearing. The hearing officer will be appointed under the regulations, conduct the prehearing procedures, and adjudicate the hearing.

The hearing officer may:

  • Subpoena witnesses.
  • Compel production of documents.
  • Put witnesses under oath.
  • Loosely follow certain rules of evidence.

The hearing will often look and feel like an informal trial, with witnesses examined and arguments by counsel.

Step Six: Decision and Order

After hearing the evidence, the hearing officer will issue a Decision and Order.

Step Seven: Appeal

If a licensee is not successful at the hearing, they may appeal the Decision and Order to the Rhode Island Superior Court.

Additionally, a licensee can move for Reconsideration after the issuance of a Final Decision, but not more than 20 days after issuance. The Director or Hearing Officer may grant the motion for reconsideration and order appropriate relief.

Step Eight: Ongoing Compliance

In the aftermath of a disciplinary proceeding, you may need to accept a reprimand and certain probationary terms. Perhaps you will need to take a class or engage in some type of professional training. Maybe you will agree to drug or alcohol counseling. Whatever the terms, you may have questions or need further advice or representation. The Lento Law Firm knows that representation may be ongoing for a time after disciplinary proceedings. The emphasis should always be on protecting your license and your reputation.

Mitigating Circumstances

In determining a penalty for a violation, the hearing officer may consider certain mitigating circumstances that may lessen the penalty. These mitigating circumstances may include:

  • The Party's licensing history and the absence of prior disciplinary actions.
  • The Party's acceptance of responsibility for any violations.
  • The Party's cooperation with the Department.
  • The Party's willingness to give a full and honest explanation.

Aggravating Circumstances

The Hearing Officer may also consider aggravating circumstances in deciding to impose a harsher penalty:

  • The Party's prior disciplinary history.
  • The Party's lack of cooperation and/or candor.
  • Whether the actions of the Party undermine the regulatory scheme.
  • Whether harm to the public has occurred.
  • Whether the Party acted dishonestly or incompetently.

Order of Proceeding

Many medical professionals wonder if a Board of Pharmacy proceeding will be like a trial. It will look like a trial at times, but it will be much more informal. The hearing officer will not wear a robe like a judge, but they will make rulings on some questions of evidence. The Board will be represented by some type of prosecutor, often an attorney employed by the Board. Typically, this is the order of such a Hearing:

  1. The attorney for the Board will make an opening statement outlining the charges against the pharmacist.
  2. The pharmacist (or their attorney) will now make an opening statement outlining their response to the complaint.
  3. The attorney for the Board will present evidence and call witnesses.
  4. The pharmacist has the right to cross-examine Board witnesses.
  5. The pharmacist (or their attorney) will present evidence and testimony of their witnesses.
  6. The attorney for the Board may cross-examine the pharmacist's witnesses.
  7. The attorney for the Board may rebut any evidence presented by the pharmacist.
  8. Each side may make a closing statement.

Why You Should Hire the Lento Law Firm

The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team are some of the most experienced license defense lawyers in the country. They have represented countless medical professionals, including doctors, pharmacists, and CRNAs.

Whether you are working in Providence, Warwick, or any other area of Rhode Island, the Lento Law Firm can represent you in defending your Rhode Island Pharmacist license.

How Does the Lento Law Firm Defend You?

The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will be with you every step of the way as you defend your pharmacist license and your good name and reputation. The Lento Law Firm will:

  1. Review the allegations contained in the charge against you and advise you on the best course of action.
  2. Assist in drafting the Answer to the claims made against you.
  3. Represent you during the investigation and seek early dismissal of the complaint.
  4. Advise you on whether to agree to any Consent Order or other settlement of your case.
  5. Represent you at the Hearing, including opening and closing statements, examination of witnesses, cross-examining agency witnesses, and all other hearing tasks.
  6. Present mitigating factors to reduce any discipline that the Hearing Officer might consider.
  7. Advise you on appeals and attempt to have any discipline reduced.
  8. Assist you with any ongoing compliance issues.

If you have begun this process without counsel, the Lento Law Firm can still help, but it is imperative to call and begin the process of hiring counsel. The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will lead the defense of your license. Call us today at 888-535-3686 or submit your details online, and we will contact you.


Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are committed to answering your questions about Physician License Defense, Nursing License Defense, Pharmacist License Defense, Psychologist and Psychiatrist License Defense, Dental License Defense, Chiropractic License Defense, Real Estate License Defense, Professional Counseling License Defense, and Other Professional Licenses law issues nationwide.
The Lento Law Firm will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.