Building a career as a physician, nurse, dentist, or other licensed healthcare professional is no easy task. To become a successful licensed healthcare professional requires great dedication, a huge investment of time and money, and a passion for helping people. That's why it can be so devastating and stressful to learn that you've been accused of wrongdoing and that your license is in jeopardy. If you're a practicing healthcare professional in East Orange, NJ, you don't need to be reminded that your livelihood hinges on your license. If the licensing board who issued your license believes you have violated their ethical and/or professional standards, they could suspend or revoke your license--effectively ending your career.
What makes this particularly scary is that you can face disciplinary action even without conclusive proof that you did anything wrong. That's because licensing boards in New Jersey make their determinations only based on a preponderance of the evidence. Whether the issue is a misunderstanding with a patient, an honest mistake, or an outright false allegation, a single complaint has the potential to derail all you've worked for.
Professional License Defense Attorney in East Orange, NJ
Because there's so much at stake when your healthcare license is under fire, your best hope of resolving a license investigation in your favor is with the help of an experienced East Orange, NJ license defense attorney--someone who has a working knowledge of the licensing boards and disciplinary processes in the state. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has a long track record of success helping those accused of misconduct, and he and his team will work tirelessly to get you the best possible outcome. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
The Disciplinary Process for Healthcare Professionals in East Orange, NJ
If somebody alleges that you've committed some sort of professional misconduct, the New Jersey state licensing board that granted your license will investigate and decide on possible disciplinary action. For instance, if you are a doctor or surgeon, the State Board of Medical Examiners would manage this process; nurses answer to the State Board of Nursing, and so on. Regardless of the licensing board involved, most license defense cases move through the following set of stages.
In almost all cases, the license disciplinary process begins when someone files a formal complaint against you to your licensing board. For healthcare and medical professionals, complainants are usually patients, former patients, colleagues, insurance companies, etc. If you've recently been convicted of a crime and the courts notify your licensing board, this could also trigger a license investigation.
Response to Complaint
After a complaint is lodged, you'll be sent written notification from the licensing board regarding the issue and asked to provide your response in writing. This stage is your first opportunity to communicate your side of things, and it provides you with a chance at being vindicated early if you are able to back up your claims with evidence. Take your written response seriously because if it is compelling enough, the board may drop the matter with no further action. (A good license defense attorney can assist you in drafting a convincing response.)
Following this, the licensing board will appoint a Preliminary Evaluation Committee (PEC) to delve into the complaint against you. The PEC will designate an investigator to collect evidence that either confirms or denies your alleged misconduct. It is quite likely that during their investigation they may converse with both the complainant and any witnesses associated with the issue at hand. They may also subpoena documents and ask you to give a statement under oath.
If the evidence against you is compelling, the licensing board may offer to have you sign a consent order to resolve the case rather than go through the effort of calling a formal hearing. A consent order is a binding agreement between you and the state in which you submit voluntarily to the disciplinary action the board is recommending. Since this is effectively an admission of guilt and becomes part of your professional record, you should consult with an attorney before signing a consent order because it isn't always the most beneficial option. However, if disciplinary action is inevitable, a good attorney can sometimes negotiate terms into a consent order that either allow you to keep your license or provide a pathway for eventual reinstatement of your license.
If you choose not to sign a consent order, the licensing board will then call a formal hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) during which they can present evidence against you and you can provide your defense. At this stage of the game, having an attorney to speak on your behalf is vital because it can mean the difference between keeping or losing your license. Moreover, experienced license defense attorneys understand the many nuances of the process and can help you prepare your case in the most favorable way. At the conclusion of the hearing, the ALJ will make a ruling as to recommended disciplinary actions, up to and including revoking your license.
Healthcare Institutions in East Orange, NJ
Located in northeast New Jersey just outside Newark, the city of East Orange is home to roughly 70,000 people, but it sits within the densely populated suburbs of New York City with a surrounding population in the millions. Numerous reputable healthcare facilities dot this region to ensure the health needs of the population are met. These facilities hold their staff and employees to high standards of patient care, so having your license come under scrutiny could also potentially endanger your employment.
The main healthcare systems and facilities serving the East Orange area include, but are not limited to:
Carewell Health Medical Center
Located in the heart of East Orange, Carewell Health Medical Center is the rebranding of the formerly-known East Orange General Hospital, one of the few independently operated acute-care hospitals in the region with a 120-year history of patient care in the East Orange area.
Newark Community Health Centers
With six locations across the Newark-East Orange area, Newark Community Health Centers focus on providing affordable primary medical care to the community. The East Orange location on William Street offers both medical and dental services.
Located in nearby Newark, University Hospital began in 1882 as City Hospital with only 25 beds. Today, University Hospital is a large 519-bed acute care facility, serving as the teaching hospital for Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and the region's only Level I trauma center.
The Importance of Hiring a License Defense Attorney
Doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and other licensed health professionals sometimes assume that they can navigate claims of misconduct on their own--especially if they believe the complaint to be frivolous. What these professionals don't understand is that the licensing board is not on their side. If you're accused of misconduct, the licensing board has an obligation to look out for the public interest, and they may be willing to err on the side of caution if they have significant doubts as to your competence. You have no guaranteed presumption of innocence, and the board only needs to be convinced that you are more likely than not to have committed the offense in order to discipline you. Without an attorney protecting your rights, you're at a disadvantage from the moment the board receives a complaint against you.
The best way to protect your professional license and ensure your rights are respected is to hire a knowledgeable license defense attorney as soon as possible. A good attorney can evaluate the complaint against you, look at the available evidence, and work to develop a strong defense strategy. Your attorney can help draft a compelling written response, gather evidence and witnesses to support your claim, and even negotiate at multiple points with the licensing board to get the complaint resolved favorably before a hearing is even called. (Of course, they can also defend you aggressively at a formal hearing, if necessary.) Ultimately, having a reliable attorney to represent you will significantly improve your chances of receiving a favorable outcome regarding the status of your license.
What Accusations Can Jeopardize My Healthcare License in New Jersey?
In East Orange, medical providers must observe the strictest ethical and professional principles established by their respective licensing boards. Most grievances that may damage your license are probably caused by an accusation that you disregarded these regulations or acted in a manner that erodes public trust. Common allegations include, but are not limited to:
Gross Neglect or Abuse
Examples include providing inadequate care, misdiagnosing an illness, prescribing inappropriate medicines or dosage amounts, compromising confidential medical information (i.e., HIPAA violations), or mistreating a patient physically, verbally, or mentally.
Common examples of sexual misconduct include sexual harassment or unwanted advances toward patients, colleagues, etc. Additionally, engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship with a patient you're treating is a serious ethics violation and may itself be grounds for losing your license.
Fraud is an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of deceitful practices, such as fabricating billing records for nonexistent services or treatments, padding insurance claims through upcoding, tampering with patient data to misrepresent facts, receiving kickbacks in exchange for referrals, etc.
Abusing alcohol or drugs can impair your ability to make sound decisions regarding your patients--not to mention damage your credibility as a healthcare professional.
Inappropriate Handling of Controlled Substances
If you're found to have prescribed, administered, or otherwise mishandled controlled substances (opioids, psychotropic medications, etc.) without legitimate medical reason or in an irresponsible manner that endangers public safety, your license may be jeopardized. You may also be disciplined over irregularities in your inventory records, pilfering patient medications for personal use, etc.
Poor medical documentation can put the health of your patients at risk and lead to a host of legal ramifications. Common records offenses include altering or omitting information related to patient interactions or treatments, changing documents without authorization, neglecting the confidentiality of sensitive data, supplying false details in billing claims or reports, etc.
Failure to Follow Protocols for Patient Care
Failure to adhere to established protocols in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses can lead to disciplinary action. Examples involve failing to seek informed consent from a patient before performing a procedure, neglecting to monitor a patient's condition appropriately, failing to refer a patient for specialist care when the condition warrants it, or failing to abide by a doctor's instructions regarding their patient's care.
Being convicted of certain crimes can completely disqualify you from holding a license in New Jersey, while others may simply generate scrutiny from your licensing board. Most convictions that endanger one's healthcare license involve crimes of moral turpitude or crimes related to your profession.
Legal Help for Licensed Healthcare Professionals in East Orange, NJ
As a qualified medical professional serving the East Orange area, your license is key to your livelihood. Remember, one allegation could put at risk everything you've worked so hard for. If you receive notice that a complaint has been filed against you, the best thing you can do to safeguard your career is hire and experienced license defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Joseph D. Lento's extensive experience in representing medical professionals facing board disciplinary cases in New Jersey makes him the ideal partner for navigating this difficult time and achieving a successful outcome on your behalf. He knows what needs to be done and works tirelessly to get you results that exceed expectations.
The Lento Law Firm can help with licensing defense issues for any of these professionals in East Orange, NJ:
- Nurse practitioners
- Physician assistants
- Mental health professionals
- Physical therapists
- Other licensed professionals
Don't jeopardize your career by facing a license investigation without the necessary legal assistance. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn more about how we can help.