Becoming a licensed doctor, nurse, dentist, or other medical professional is no easy task. You've invested countless hours in study and field practice, spent thousands of dollars on schooling (and possibly taken on student debt), sat for grueling exams, and more. Now, as a licensed healthcare professional in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, you have forged a career in service to the community. That's why it can be so devastating to be accused of wrongdoing and have your license come under investigation.
Professional License Defense Attorney in Lancaster, PA
Your career is largely built on trust, but that trust can be eroded by a single complaint. The state licensing boards in Pennsylvania take complaints seriously, and you could face disciplinary action, fines, or the loss of your license. That's why it's important to have an experienced professional license defense attorney on your side when it comes to defending yourself against such allegations.
Joseph D. Lento is a trusted Pennsylvania license defense attorney with extensive experience defending healthcare and other professional practitioners who are accused of misconduct. He and his team are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending your professional license in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. With a deep knowledge of the state's licensing laws and regulations, Joseph D. Lento will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive fair treatment and the most positive resolution. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
How a License Investigation Can Endanger Your Career
As a healthcare professional, your license is the foundation of your career. Unfortunately, if you're faced with a professional license investigation, it can be extremely damaging to both your reputation and your ability to practice in the field. State licensing boards are committed to public safety--they have broad authority to impose disciplinary actions and low threshold of proof to find you guilty of wrongdoing. Even a misunderstanding with a patient or a single lapse in judgment can potentially lead to disciplinary action with long-lasting implications for the future. It's important to take any complaints seriously--because you can be sure that your Pennsylvania licensing board does. Hiring an experienced attorney as soon as possible can help you protect both your standing in the medical profession and your livelihood in the long run.
The Disciplinary Process for Licensed Professionals in Lancaster, PA
As a healthcare provider in Pennsylvania, the state licensing board that granted your license will determine what disciplinary action to take should you be accused of breaching professional or ethical standards. The State of Pennsylvania has established a uniform process for disciplining its licensed professionals, including those in healthcare. If you're accused of wrongdoing, the disciplinary process will move forward according to the following steps.
Nearly all disciplinary processes begin with a formal complaint. Any member of the public can file a complaint against any licensed professional via that Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA). Most complaints against healthcare professionals are filed by:
- Other practitioners
- Insurers (in cases of suspected fraud)
- Healthcare facilities
Upon receiving a complaint, the BPOA appoints an investigator from the Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI) to look into it and find evidence to support the complaint. This may involve interviewing witnesses, issuing subpoenas for records, etc. Additionally, you may be requested to provide your written response to the complaint. If the BEI investigator attempts to make an unexpected trip to your practice, we urge you not to respond to any of their queries without a lawyer present.
If the investigator's findings don't uncover enough evidence to substantiate the complaint, then the licensing board may choose to dismiss it. If there is sufficient evidence, the case will move forward.
If enough proof of misconduct is presented, the licensing board might propose a consent agreement with you as an alternative to holding a formal hearing. Through this binding arrangement, you willingly agree with and obey the disciplinary actions advised by the board. Although it may not be the ideal route, if you lack sufficient evidence to dispute the complaint and have a capable lawyer who can secure an agreement that gives your license the potential for reinstatement, then accepting a consent agreement could be your best course of action.
In the absence of a consent agreement, the next stage is to summon you to a formal hearing before a state examiner to show cause why your license should not be revoked. You may have a lawyer present to represent you at this hearing. At the end of the hearing, the examiner will present his recommendations on your disciplinary action to the licensing board. The possibilities range from a formal reprimand or probationary period all the way up to revoking your license entirely.
Why You Should Hire an Experienced Lancaster License Defense Attorney
Healthcare professionals who are accused of misconduct often don't recognize the severity of their predicament. They think that talking to the licensing board is sufficient enough, and believe they will be exonerated easily. Sadly, this isn't usually what happens in reality. When it comes to your license, there's no guaranteed presumption of innocence when a complaint is filed against you, which means you're immediately put at a disadvantage. Your licensing board has the authority to mete out discipline based only on a preponderance of the evidence--meaning they only have to be convinced you're more likely than not to have committed the violation.
Having an attorney with specific experience in license defense helps to even the odds against you and give you a better chance of coming through the disciplinary process with your license still intact. An experienced attorney can:
- Draft a compelling written response to the complaint, which could get the complaint dismissed with no further action against you.
- Evaluate the allegations and come up with a strong defense strategy.
- Represent you in all interactions with the board to protect you from saying something potentially incriminating.
- Negotiate with the board to dismiss the complaint or impose lighter penalties.
- If necessary, defend you vigorously at a formal hearing.
Healthcare Services in Lancaster, PA
Located in southern Pennsylvania about 60 miles west of Philadelphia, the City of Lancaster, PA serves as the county seat for Lancaster County. While the city itself is home to about 58,000 people, the surrounding metro area serves a population of more than one-half million people.
Overwhelmingly, the Penn Medicine/Lancaster General Health system administers most of the healthcare facilities in this area, employing hundreds of doctors, nurses, and related health professionals. These healthcare facilities maintain high standards of ethics, professionalism, and accountability for their staff, and allegations of misconduct could result in termination along with loss of license.
Among the facilities administered by Lancaster General Health are:
- Lancaster General Hospital: A 525-bed hospital in downtown Lancaster, ranked the fourth-best hospital in PA.
- Women & Babies Hospital: A dedicated women's health and maternity hospital delivering more than 4000 babies per year.
- LG Health Physicians Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: A center focused on both general surgery and trauma surgery.
What Allegations of Wrongdoing Could Jeopardize Your Healthcare License?
The Board of Medicine in Pennsylvania is responsible for monitoring the licensure and discipline of medical practitioners, while the Board of Nursing ensures that registered nurses and licensed practical nurses maintain high standards. The Board of Dentistry oversees dentists, hygienists, and assistants to guarantee top-notch dental care throughout the state. These and other licensing boards have the power to investigate and levy disciplinary actions against licensees who are believed to have committed misconduct. Among the most common allegations investigated by state healthcare licensing boards include, but are not limited to:
Any form of sexual harassment of colleagues, employees, or patients will typically be met with severe discipline if the allegations are substantiated. Additionally, entering a romantic relationship with a patient you are treating is considered a major ethical breach and could result in loss of license.
Inappropriate prescribing or dispensing of controlled substances
In Pennsylvania, stringent regulations have been put in place by the government to deter drug abuse and ensure that medical professionals dispense drugs responsibly. If these standards are not followed accordingly, their license is at risk of being revoked. Examples of drug-related misconduct include:
- Prescribing medicines without a justifiable reason (i.e., without a proper diagnosis of illness)
- Overprescribing certain kinds of medicines (e.g., opioids)
- Knowingly maintaining inaccurate inventories of medications
- Stealing meds for personal use
- Distributing drugs without a doctor's prescription
Medical professionals are expected to always remain truthful and honest about the services they provide. this includes accurately recording diagnosis codes, billing only for medically necessary services, and notifying payers of any changes in treatment plans or fees charged for services. Falsifying patient records is considered a serious breach of patient trust and can lead to disciplinary action from the licensing board. Other fraudulent practices like "upcoding" procedures to get higher insurance payouts, billing insurance for services not rendered, etc., may all lead to having your license revoked.
Patient abuse/gross neglect
This can encompass a wide range of behaviors, from failing to provide adequate medical care to patients to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. It also includes such violations as breaching patient confidentiality, mistakes in prescribing/dispensing medications, or performing procedures that are deemed unnecessary or unnecessarily risky.
Certain criminal convictions can result in suspension or revocation of a medical license, and this is especially true for crimes of moral turpitude or crimes directly related to your profession. The licensing board takes into consideration the seriousness of the crime and whether it was directly related to the licensee's professional practice when deciding on disciplinary action.
The use and abuse of alcohol, drugs, or any other substances is a form of professional misconduct. Even if the addiction does not directly interfere with the practice of medicine, failure to self-report or to seek treatment for addiction could still result in license suspension/revocation.
The licensing boards in Pennsylvania require medical professionals to maintain accurate charts, records, and other documentation regarding the services they provide. If found negligent or careless when it comes to record keeping, a healthcare provider may be disciplined by their board.
Failing to follow treatment guidelines
Failure to adhere to a physician's instructions concerning patient care can result in serious disciplinary action. Furthermore, neglecting to refer a person requiring specialist attention could put your license in jeopardy.
When Should You Consult an Attorney?
The state licensing board is required to notify you when they receive a complaint against you and if an investigation has commenced. You should consider hiring a license defense attorney as soon as possible after receiving this notice. Throughout any subsequent investigation, the licensing board will be building its case against you, so the longer you wait to obtain legal representation, the more you'll be operating on the defensive when it comes to keeping your license. By employing an established license defense attorney at the first sign of potential disciplinary action, you can optimize your chances of avoiding a formal hearing and obtaining a more favorable outcome.
Professional License Defense in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
If you are a healthcare professional in Lancaster, PA who is facing disciplinary action from your licensing board, Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team can improve your chances of emerging from the disciplinary process unscathed. We can help any of the following licensed professions in Lancaster:
- Nurse practitioners
- Physician assistants
- Mental health professionals
- Physical therapists
- Other licensed professionals
Don't risk your license and your future by responding to a misconduct investigtion without expereinced legal representation. Take steps now to save your career. Call the Lento Law firm today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.