As a licensed doctor, nurse, physician assistant, dentist, or other medical professional practicing in Bayonne, NJ, you've worked hard to build a rewarding career--and even harder to earn the trust of your patients and colleagues. Not only have you gone through the time and effort of getting a quality education, but you've also sat through grueling exams, invested countless hours into field practice, and met all the qualifications for professional licensing.
But what happens when something goes wrong? A single mistake, misstep, or misunderstanding, a single complaint made against you with the state licensing board--and everything you've worked for could be on the line. When your licensing board initiates an investigation or disciplinary action against you, the consequences can be severe, possibly even resulting in the loss of your license. And with no license, you have no more career.
Professional License Defense Attorney in Bayonne, NJ
If you're a licensed health professional facing licensing board discipline, don't risk your career by facing the allegations alone. With the help of a qualified Bayonne license defense attorney, you can minimize the damage to your reputation and your career. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a New Jersey attorney with extensive experience in disciplinary matters and an excellent track record of success. He and his team can greatly improve your chances for a favorable outcome, one that protects your license and your career. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
The Disciplinary Process for Medical Professionals in Bayonne, NJ
As a healthcare professional, if you are ever faced with allegations of misconduct or wrongdoing, the licensing board that issued your license will manage any disciplinary procedures. In New Jersey specifically, physicians report to the Board of Medical Examiners (BME); nurses answer to the Board of Nursing (BON); and dentists fall under the State Board of Dentistry, etc.
Each board has its own specific procedures and rules for disciplinary proceedings, but the basic process is fairly common, moving through several stages as follows.
Most disciplinary actions start with a formal complaint sent to the applicable state licensing board. While any member of the public can file a complaint, the most common complaints against licensed medical professionals come from:
- Other practitioners
- Healthcare facilities
- Insurance companies (in cases involving suspected fraud)
- Court clerks (when the court reports a criminal conviction that appears on your record)
Request for Response
Once the licensing board receives a complaint, they will forward a request for a response to the accused professional. The request will set out the details of the allegations and provide instructions on how to respond. Depending upon the nature of the complaint, you may be asked for additional documents or information. If you can provide a compelling written response refuting the complaint (preferably supported by evidence), the licensing board may close the matter with no further action. A good license defense attorney can be quite helpful in drafting a convincing response.
Next, the licensing board will appoint a Preliminary Evaluation Committee (PEC) to investigate the complaint. The PEC will then assign an investigator to the case who will use various methods of fact-finding, including interviewing the complainant and relevant witnesses, subpoenaing documents and records, etc. This is all in a bid to gather evidence to corroborate the allegations against you. You may also be asked to appear before the PEC to answer questions under oath.
At some point during the disciplinary process, the board may offer to negotiate a consent order with you as an alternative to holding a formal hearing. A consent order is an agreement between you and the state in which you agree to submit to the board's recommended disciplinary actions. Since this is effectively an admission of guilt and will typically result in adverse actions against your license, you shouldn't agree to a consent order unless an attorney deems it is the best option for you. However, in cases where disciplinary action is inevitable, a good attorney can often negotiate for leniency within the agreement, either allowing you to keep your license or at least providing conditions for reinstatement.
If a consent order is not presented or accepted, the licensing board will file an official complaint against you with the state. This necessitates your attendance at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) where both sides can present evidence and give testimony. Representation by legal counsel is recommended and allowed during this process for the protection of your rights. When the hearing concludes, the judge will make a determination regarding your guilt or innocence and make appropriate recommendations to the licensing board regarding disciplinary actions--up to and including revoking your license.
Why You Need a License Defense Attorney
The administrative process for defending your license is complex and can be quite daunting, especially if you don't have a legal background. Furthermore, you're effectively coming into the process at a disadvantage because there is no presumption of innocence until you're proven guilty. The licensing boards in New Jersey have broad authority to impose discipline, and they only need to base their decision on a preponderance of the evidence--meaning they must only be convinced you're more likely than not to have committed the offense.
Having an experienced license defense attorney on your side gives you the best chance of having disciplinary proceedings dismissed or obtaining a favorable outcome. An attorney will help guide you through the complicated process, provide knowledgeable advice on your rights and responsibilities, and offer a vigorous representation of your interests both in negotiations and formal proceedings. When you're facing the potential loss of a professional license, having the right attorney on your side is essential to leveling the playing field in license disciplinary proceedings.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team have extensive experience in negotiating favorable solutions for professionals implicated in misconduct. Attorney Lento will:
- Act as your official legal representative in all communications with the board and/or the ALJ.
- Assess the allegation made against you and compile evidence and testimonials to prove your innocence.
- Boost your chances of having the complaint dismissed swiftly by crafting a persuasive written response to the complaint.
- Negotiate directly with the board to dismiss the complaint or agree to more lenient penalties.
- Negotiate favorable terms for a consent order, if one is offered.
- Defend you in a formal hearing, if needed.
Healthcare Institutions Serving Bayonne, NJ
Located along the west side of New York Harbor below Liberty Island, the City of Bayonne sits on a peninsula just north of Staten Island. It is a populous community of more than 70,000 within the busy suburbs along the Hudson River on the Jersey side. As such, numerous hospitals and outpatient facilities serve the medical needs of this area. Given the stringent expectations of quality and professionalism demanded from these institutions, any allegations that could threaten one's license to practice would likely impact their employment status as well. Thus, staff are expected to maintain a high ethical standard at all times in order to protect both themselves and their employers.
Healthcare facilities and institutions serving the Bayonne area include, but are not limited to:
Bayonne Medical Center
As the primary hospital for the city, Bayonne Medical Center is a 278-bed facility that has served the acute care needs of Bayonne residents for more than 100 years. Bayonne Medical Center is administered by CarePoint Health, a regional health system that also operates Christ Hospital in nearby Jersey City.
As New Jersey's largest integrated healthcare provider, RWJBarnabas Health operates numerous hospitals, primary care, and specialty care facilities across New Jersey. RWJBarnabas Health at Bayonne offers both primary and specialty care, along with 24-7 emergency room facilities.
What Types of Allegations Could Jeopardize Your License
Licensed doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other healthcare practitioners are held to high standards of ethical and professional excellence for the safety of their patients. Most accusations of wrongdoing that could jeopardize your license will involve some breach of these protocols or a general violation of the public trust. Here are some of the more common examples.
Sexual misconduct or unethical relationships
Medical professionals are expected to maintain strict professional ethics, which includes refraining from romantic or sexual relationships with their patients. In addition, any type of sexual misconduct, such as unwanted advances (to either one's patient or colleagues), harassment, and assault, is considered a violation of the code of conduct. Accusations along these lines can quickly lead to the revocation of your license and, in some cases, may even result in a temporary suspension pending investigation.
Fraud encompasses a myriad of activities, from billing for services not rendered to accepting kickbacks. Other offenses include falsifying records, overcharging patients and insurance companies, exaggerating credentials, false advertising, or "upcoding" an insurance claim.
Patient abuse/gross neglect
Patients and their families often make allegations against medical professionals claiming abuse or neglect, covering a wide range of behaviors that may include physical or verbal abuse, neglecting to provide basic care, misprescribing medications, misdiagnosing illnesses, violating patient confidentiality, performing unnecessary procedures, or performing procedures in a way that presents an unnecessary risk to the patient.
Inappropriate handling of controlled substances
Prescription medications are carefully regulated, and healthcare professionals must be careful to abide by proper safety protocols when providing them to patients. Examples of mishandling medications include, but are not limited to:
- Prescribing medications without a justifiable medical reason
- Diverting medications intended for patients
- Prescribing medications when you're not authorized to so
- Prescribing inordinate amounts of addictive substances (e.g., opioids)
- Dispensing medications without a prescription
Accurate and thorough documentation of patient care is essential, both for ensuring proper medical treatment as well as defending oneself against potential allegations. Poor recordkeeping can involve failing to document treatments, providing inadequate information about medications or procedures provided, altering patient records, etc.
Drug and alcohol abuse can have an adverse effect on a healthcare professional's judgment and their ability to provide quality care. In some cases, it may even lead to medical errors or negligence. If you are found to be under the influence while on duty or if there is evidence of long-term substance abuse, your license can be revoked.
Depending on the severity of the offense, convictions for misdemeanor or felony charges can lead to revocation or suspension of your license. Not all criminal convictions will trigger adverse actions, but convictions for crimes such as theft, fraud, sexual assault, or other crimes of moral turpitude are more likely to put your license in jeopardy. Additionally, failing to inform your licensing board of a criminal conviction, even if the offense wouldn't normally be grounds for punishment, can lead to severe disciplinary measures.
Professional License Defense for Licensed Healthcare Professionals in Bayonne, New Jersey
The Lento Law Firm has extensive experience in defending those accused of misconduct in New Jersey. Attorney Lento and his team can help any of the following licensed professionals in Bayonne who are facing possible disciplinary action:
- Physician (M.D. or D.O)
- Nurse practitioner
- Physician assistant
- Physical therapist
- Mental health professionals
- Other licensed professions
As a licensed medical professional, your career is dependent on your license. If you're facing allegations of misconduct, don't wait until you're summoned to a hearing to consider getting an attorney. A skilled license defense attorney can often intervene at the first sign of trouble and help bring about a favorable resolution before the matter even reaches the hearing stage. Whatever the status of your disciplinary process, Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team can greatly improve the odds that you will emerge with your license intact. Let us get to work for you. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation right away.