As a licensed physician, nurse, dentist, or other healthcare professional in Clifton, NJ, you've built your career around providing much-needed health services to your community. You've invested a great deal of time and money into your training and schooling, and you've worked hard to earn the trust of your patients. But what happens when that trust is compromised or endangered? Whether it's a misunderstanding that spiraled out of control or a simple misstep, all it takes is a single complaint with your New Jersey state licensing board to put your license at risk.
The New Jersey state licensing boards are extremely meticulous in monitoring the ethical and professional standards of healthcare professionals. All grievances filed are thoroughly investigated, and the board has broad authority and a low burden of proof to impose disciplinary action—up to and including revoking your license. And without a license, you have no career.
Professional License Defense Attorney in Clifton, NJ
If you have received notice of a complaint or accusation concerning your professional license, taking swift action by hiring an experienced New Jersey license defense attorney could save your career. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has years of proven experience defending those implicated in misconduct, and he can provide the skilled representation and guidance needed to protect your livelihood. Mr. Lento and his team are experienced in all aspects of medical license defense and understand the complex laws and regulations that govern the New Jersey state licensing process. In many cases, quick intervention from an attorney can avert serious consequences while keeping your license to practice intact. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
The Disciplinary Process for Healthcare Professionals in Clifton
The New Jersey state licensing board that issued your professional license will also be responsible for investigating complaints made against you. For example, if you're a physician, you'll answer to the State Board of Medical Examiners; for nurses, it's the State Board of Nursing, and so on. While each licensing board operates according to its established protocols, most disciplinary actions against licensed health professionals will move through the following stages.
In almost every situation, the process of discipline begins with a formal complaint. Any member of the public can file a complaint against you to your licensing board, but for most health professionals, complaints will come from patients, former patients, co-workers, insurance companies, or healthcare facilities. The board may also initiate an investigation if they receive notice from the courts that you have been recently convicted of a crime.
Response to Complaint
After a complaint is filed, the next step is for the licensing board to send you written notice about the complaint and ask you to submit a response in writing. This step is crucial, not only because it's your first opportunity to tell your side of the story, but because a compelling response supported by evidence can quite often avert any further action by the board. If you can provide a reasonable explanation, in other words, with evidence to back it up, the board may simply dismiss the complaint. One of the best ways to encourage this outcome is to hire a skilled New Jersey license defense attorney to draft the written response for you.
Should the process move forward, a Preliminary Evaluation Committee (PEC) will be appointed by the licensing board to oversee your investigation. This PEC will assign an investigator to seek out evidence that could substantiate the complaint against you. The investigator will likely interview the complainant and witnesses, subpoena relevant documents, and perform other fact-finding research. You may also be asked to give a statement under oath during this stage.
If the investigator discovers significant evidence to support the allegations, the board may offer to negotiate a consent order with you to avoid the trouble of a formal hearing. A consent order is a binding agreement in which you voluntarily submit to the disciplinary actions recommended by the board. You should always consult with an attorney before signing a consent order because it may deeply impact your future career. In some cases, it may be your best option, especially if disciplinary action is inevitable and if it provides a path toward reinstatement of your license. But if you can provide sufficient evidence in a hearing to refute the complaint, your attorney may advise you to reject the consent order in the hope of a better outcome.
In the absence of a consent order, the next stage of the process is to have a formal hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). At this hearing, you will be asked to show cause why your medical license should not be suspended or revoked. You may have legal representation with you at this hearing. At the conclusion of this hearing, the ALJ will make a determination and recommendation to the board regarding disciplinary action against your license, ranging from a simple reprimand all the way to a full revocation of your license to practice.
Healthcare Institutions in Clifton, NJ
Located in the NYC suburbs of eastern New Jersey, the city of Clifton sits in a busy metropolitan area at the crossroads of several major highways. Numerous hospitals, specialty hospitals, and outpatient facilities serve this community, and these facilities hold their staff to high standards of patient care and professional excellence. Like the state licensing boards, they take allegations of misconduct seriously, and if a licensed professional working at these facilities is under scrutiny for their license, it could also cost them their place of employment.
The main healthcare systems and facilities serving the Clifton area include, but are not limited to:
St. Joseph's Health
Serving the East New Jersey area, St. Joseph's Health is consistently rated as one of the top hospitals and healthcare providers in the state. The primary campus is St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in nearby Paterson, and St. Joseph's also administers several outpatient facilities and an urgent care center in Clifton.
St. Mary's General Hospital
Located in nearby Passaic, NJ, St. Mary's General Hospital is a full-service acute care hospital also known for its cardiovascular and cancer treatment facilities. St. Mary's is part of the Prime Healthcare Network, which operates 45 hospitals across 14 states.
The Benefit of Hiring a Professional License Defense Attorney
Many licensed healthcare professionals fail to grasp the potential repercussions of being accused of misconduct. The licensing boards in New Jersey are deeply committed to public safety and preserving public trust. They can find you at fault based only on a preponderance of the evidence, and they can revoke your license if they are convinced that you are at least 51 percent likely to have committed the offense. In other words, there's no guaranteed presumption of innocence, and your future is in the hands of a board that has no sense of loyalty toward you. If they opt to suspend or revoke your license, not only will it stop you from practicing in your chosen profession, but even if your license is eventually reinstated, the damage to your professional reputation could be irreversible. That's why it's so important to take proactive steps to protect your rights and interests.
Hiring an experienced licensed defense attorney puts you in a much better position to defend yourself against allegations of wrongdoing and improves your chances of working out a positive resolution with the board. Your odds of keeping your license go up considerably with a good attorney in your corner. Your attorney will:
- Carefully examine the allegations against you and come up with a successful defense plan.
- Draft a compelling written response to the complaint to improve the chances of having it dismissed.
- Represent you in all interactions with the licensing board as your lawful representative.
- Gather evidence and procure witnesses to refute the claims against you.
- Negotiate with the licensing board for a resolution that minimizes penalties while allowing you to keep your license.
- Defend you before the Administrative Law Judge at a formal hearing, if the process moves to that stage.
What Accusations Can Jeopardize My License as a Healthcare Professional?
In Clifton, New Jersey, medical professionals are held to high ethical and professional standards by their respective licensing boards. The majority of complaints that have the potential to damage your license will stem from claims that you disregarded these standards or acted in a way to jeopardize public trust. Examples include, but are not limited to:
As a medical practitioner, it is unethical to have any sort of romantic or sexual relationship with someone you're treating. Allegations of this sort can easily lead to the revocation of your license. Other forms of sexual misconduct not only encompass unwanted advances towards colleagues and patients, but also includes assault and all other inappropriate physical contact.
Gross Neglect or Abuse
Medical professionals may face severe repercussions if they are found to have neglected or mistreated their patient, such as providing substandard care, making wrong diagnoses, issuing the wrong medication and dosage amounts, disclosing medical information without consent, or abusing a patient physically, verbally, or mentally.
Fraud encompasses many types of behaviors, including but not limited to billing for services or procedures you didn't provide, "upcoding" practices with insurance claims, falsifying or altering patient records, or accepting kickbacks in exchange for referrals.
Drug or Alcohol Abuse
The use of illegal drugs or the abuse of prescription medications can cause a medical professional to lose their license. Abusing alcohol also falls under this category, as it can easily impair someone's ability to safely practice medicine and lead to disciplinary action.
Inappropriate Handling of Controlled Substances
In New Jersey, it is essential to adhere to the regulations regarding prescription drugs. Failure to do so could result in your medical license being revoked. Examples of inappropriate drug handling include, but are not limited to:
- Administering drugs without a prescription
- Writing prescriptions with no medical justification
- Irresponsibly prescribing medications with a high propensity for addiction, like opioids
- Maintaining inaccurate inventories of medication
- Pilfering from medication inventories for personal use or sale on the street
Poor Record-Keeping Practices
Medical professionals are expected to keep meticulous records on their patients and any treatments they provide. Failing to keep accurate records can endanger patient safety and can result in disciplinary action. Furthermore, any irresponsible handling of records that could cause a patient's medical or personal information to be compromised could get you in hot water with the board.
Failure to Follow Protocols for Patient Care
If you disregard the instructions of a patient's doctor for providing care, or fail to refer them to specialist services when required, your license may be suspended or revoked.
Being convicted of certain crimes can disqualify you from holding a medical or healthcare-realted license in New Jersey. These usually include crimes of moral turpitude or crimes directly related to your profession.
Legal Help for Licensed Healthcare Professionals in Clifton, NJ
As a licensed doctor, nurse, dentist, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist practicing in Clifton, your livelihood hinges on your license. That livelihood could be jeopardized by a single complaint, and your professional future could be at risk. Hiring an experienced attorney at the first indication of a complaint could be the best decision you make toward protecting your career.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team have extensive experience representing medical professionals in board disciplinary cases in New Jersey, and they will work tirelessly to help you obtain a favorable resolution. The Lento Law Firm can help with licensing defense issues for any of these professionals in Clifton, NJ:
- Nurse practitioners
- Physician assistants
- Mental health professionals
- Physical therapists
- Other licensed professionals
Take action now to protect your career. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn more about how we can help you defend your license.