Practicing medicine is an extremely rewarding yet arduous profession. As a Brick Township, NJ physician, nurse practitioner, anesthesiologist, dentist, or other type of licensed medical professional, if you have put in the time and effort to establish your career thus far only to find yourself facing disciplinary action due to some unfortunate event--you know how nerve-wracking this can be. In the medical field, ethical conduct and public trust are essential for success. Unfortunately, a single mistake or false allegation can put your license at risk and jeopardize your entire career.
Professional License Defense Attorney in Brick Township, NJ
If you have been accused of breaching the professional code of conduct established by your state licensing board--whether it's an allegation of fraud, negligence, sexual misconduct, or something else--the key to protecting your career is to reach out to a skilled New Jersey license defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a highly experienced attorney who is dedicated to safeguarding the careers of licensed medical professionals. He and his team understand what's at stake for you, and they are prepared to work diligently to protect your rights and defend your license. If you're a licensed healthcare professional in Brick Township facing potential disciplinary action, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
The Disciplinary Process for Medical Professionals in Brick Township, NJ
As a healthcare practitioner, if you are accused of misconduct or wrongdoing, the licensing board responsible for your license will also oversee the disciplinary process. In New Jersey, physicians answer to the Board of Medical Examiners (BME); nurses to the Board of Nursing (BON); dentists to the State Board of Dentistry; and so on. The process of disciplinary investigations against licensed medical professionals may differ slightly from one board to the next, but most share a common set of stages.
Nearly every disciplinary action commences with a formal complaint submitted to your state licensing board. Anyone can file a complaint against you, but with healthcare professions, most complaints will come from the following sources:
- Other practitioners/colleagues
- Healthcare entities
- Insurance companies (in cases involving suspected fraud)
- Court clerks (when the court reports a criminal conviction that appears on your record)
Notification and Request for Response
The first step your licensing board will take after receiving a complaint is to notify you of the complaint and ask you to submit a response in writing. In many instances, a clear explanation of the facts and events (supported by any evidence you have) can be enough to convince the board that no further action needs to be taken. An experienced license defense lawyer can help you create a compelling written response that gets results.
During the investigation phase, the licensing board generally appoints a Preliminary Evaluation Committee (PEC) to oversee the investigation. The PEC will then assign an investigator to your case to seek out evidence to substantiate the complaint. The investigation will likely include interviews with the complainant and any relevant witnesses, subpoenas of certain documents and records, and other fact-finding efforts. You may also be asked to appear before the PEC to answer questions under oath.
Should the board's inquiry uncover enough evidence of wrongdoing to necessitate disciplinary measures, they may opt for negotiating a consent order with you as an alternative to calling a hearing. A consent order is an agreement between you and the board that stipulates the terms of your discipline. This could include revoking or suspending your license, placing you on probation, issuing a reprimand, or other sanctions that may be imposed. A consent order isn't always the recommended solution, but it might be the best one if your attorney feels severe disciplinary action is inevitable. If properly negotiated, a consent order can include a path to reinstatement of your license, leaving you in a better position to restore your career once you have met the conditions of the agreement.
If a consent order is neither offered nor accepted, the licensing board will issue a formal complaint against you to the state, in turn requiring your attendance at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. During the hearing, both parties can present evidence and give testimony. Representation by an attorney is encouraged and permitted during this process. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will make a ruling based on a preponderance of the evidence presented and make recommendations to the licensing board regarding disciplinary actions--up to and including revoking your license.
Why Hire an Attorney
If you're a Brick Township licensed healthcare professional, and you're accused of violating the code of conduct that regulates your license, you should understand that you are not given the same presumption of innocence that you would if you were on trial for a crime. State licensing boards consider their first obligation to be the protection of the public, not necessarily fairness to the accused. Their investigation only has to convince them that you're 51 percent likely to have committed the offense for them to find you guilty and impose discipline--and any attempt to resolve the issue "informally" on your own with the board could very well be used against you. In other words, you're at a disadvantage at the outset. That's why it's so important that you have experienced legal counsel on your side--someone who understands the intricacies of license defense and who can help level the playing field. In many cases, a good attorney can help resolve the complaint against you before it ever reaches the hearing stage.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team can intervene on your behalf early in the disciplinary process to give you a better chance of emerging from the situation with your license intact. Attorney Lento will:
- Examine the accusation made against you and gather evidence and witnesses to disprove it.
- Act as your official legal representative in all interactions with the board.
- Help draft a compelling written response to the complaint, improving your chances of having the complaint dismissed early.
- Negotiate directly with the board to dismiss the complaint or agree to lesser penalties.
- Negotiate favorable terms for a consent order, if one is offered.
- Defend you in a formal hearing, if needed.
Healthcare Institutions in Brick Township, NJ
Located in Ocean County, Brick Township, NJ, constitutes one of the more populous areas along the popular Jersey Shore, hosting a permanent population of about 74,000 (and more during the summer months). There are several prominent healthcare facilities (both hospitals and outpatient) that serve the healthcare needs of residents of this area. These institutions maintain high standards of care and expect their staff to act with the utmost ethical and professional excellence. Thus, if allegations surface that could potentially jeopardize one's license, those allegations could also potentially affect their employment, as well.
Healthcare facilities and institutions serving the Brick Township area include, but are not limited to:
Hackensack Meridian Health
Hackensack Meridian Health is the biggest connected healthcare system in New Jersey, operating 17 hospitals and more than 500 patient care centers across the state. In Brick Township, Hackensack Meridien oversees the 357-bed Ocean University Medical Center, the largest and most expansive hospital facility in the area--and one that is recognized as a Magnet facility for its excellence in nursing and patient care. This system also administers several outpatient and specialty care facilities across Brick Township and the vicinity.
Garden State Medical Center
With multiple locations across Ocean and Monmouth Counties, Garden State Medical Center is a regional facility committed to providing top-notch orthopedic and pain management services with an array of specialists who can address a wide range of conditions. They specialize in noninvasive and minimally invasive procedures. GSMC operates a location in Brick Township, as well as in nearby Toms River.
Common Accusations that Could Jeopardize Your License
The State of New Jersey holds its licensed medical professionals to high standards of professionalism and ethics so that the public trust may be upheld. Thus, most allegations that endanger your license have something to do with an alleged violation of these standards. Common examples include, but are not limited to, the following.
The category of fraud encompasses a wide range of possible behaviors, including billing for services not provided, overcharging patients or insurance, falsifying patient records (whether for insurance purposes or to mask an error), "upcoding" insurance claims, accepting kickbacks, false advertising, misrepresenting your credentials, etc.
Patient abuse/gross neglect
Accusations of patient abuse or gross neglect can result from allegations ranging from physical, verbal, or emotional abuse to failure to provide patients with adequate health care. Your license may also be jeopardized over accusations of medical negligence, such as prescribing the wrong medications, performing the wrong procedure on a patient, violating HIPAA patient confidentiality rules, etc.
Inappropriate handling of medications
Your license can be at risk if you are accused of mishandling medications in any way. This could include diverting controlled substances, prescribing drugs without an appropriate medical purpose, overprescribing addictive substances like opioids, and/or falsifying records related to the dispensing of medication.
Sexual misconduct/inappropriate relationships
It is a violation of professional ethics for medical professionals to engage in any type of romantic or sexual relationship with the patients they are treating. Other forms of sexual misconduct may include but are not limited to, unwanted advances (toward patients or colleagues), harassment, and assault. Such actions typically result in the loss of a license, and if you're so accused, your licensing board may even issue a temporary suspension of your license until the investigation concludes.
Keeping sloppy records
As a healthcare professional, accurate and comprehensive documentation is of utmost importance to ensure patient safety. If you're accused of neglecting proper recordkeeping or falsifying documents for any reason whatsoever, your license could be in jeopardy.
Drug and alcohol abuse can endanger your healthcare license because these behaviors can impact your judgment when caring for patients. Even if you're sober while on duty, being accused of substance abuse or addiction can put your competence as a medical professional into question.
Certain criminal convictions may constitute a violation of state regulations and put your license in jeopardy--especially offenses such as DWI, crimes of moral turpitude, and crimes directly related to your practice. Failing to self-report a criminal conviction to your licensing board can also result in serious disciplinary action, even if the offense wouldn't normally be considered grounds for discipline.
Professional License Defense for Licensed Healthcare Professionals in Brick Township, New Jersey
The Lento Law Firm has extensive experience in defending those accused of misconduct in New Jersey. Attorney Lento and his team can assist any of the following Brick Township professionals who are facing possible license discipline:
- Physician (M.D. or D.O)
- Nurse practitioner
- Physician assistant
- Physical therapist
- Mental health professionals
- Other licensed professions
If you are a licensed healthcare professional in Brick Township, your very career hinges on your license. You've worked too hard to build your career to have it destroyed over an accusation, a misunderstanding, or an honest mistake. Whether your case is in the early investigation stage or you've already been summoned to a formal hearing, attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team will work tirelessly to get you a favorable outcome and help keep your license intact. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation right away.