As a licensed physician, nurse, dentist, or other healthcare practitioner in Lower Paxton Township, Pennsylvania, you have paid a high price to build a career serving the health needs of others. You have invested countless hours in higher education and training, earning your professional license and maintaining it with a strong record of ethics and practice. That's why it can be so devastating and demoralizing to learn that your license has come under scrutiny due to allegations of wrongdoing.
And yet, it happens more often than you think. A simple misunderstanding, a temporary lapse in judgment, and an honest mistake...someone files a formal complaint with your licensing board, and suddenly you find yourself in the throes of an intrusive investigation, one that could even culminate in having your license suspended or revoked.
And all it takes is one complaint.
Professional License Defense Attorney in Lower Paxton Township, PA
Even the most diligent healthcare practitioners can find themselves facing a challenge to their professional license due to an alleged violation of ethical or professional standards. State licensing boards can issue disciplinary action with a fairly low burden of proof, and their dedication to protecting the public can easily result in unfair actions taken against you. If you face such a situation, you will need skilled legal counsel to navigate the troubled waters ahead. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a Pennsylvania license defense attorney with a long track record of success defending those in danger of disciplinary actions. He and his team will work to get you the best possible resolution for your case. To schedule a consultation regarding license disciplinary issues in Lower Paxton Township, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.
The Disciplinary Process for Healthcare Professionals in Lower Paxton Township, PA
As a licensed health professional in PA, the licensing board that administers your professional licensure will also make decisions regarding disciplinary actions against that license. If you're a physician, you answer to the Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine; for nurses, it's the State Board of Nursing; for dentists, the State Board of Dentistry, and so on.
That said, this state has instituted a uniform process for investigating and disciplining allegations of misconduct for all licensed professionals, including those in the healthcare professions. If you're accused of misconduct, you can expect the process to move through the following primary stages.
In the majority of cases, the disciplinary process for licensed professionals begins when someone files a complaint. In Pennsylvania, any member of the public may file a complaint with the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) against any professional licensed by the state. In the case of healthcare professionals, most complaints originate with one or more of the following:
- Other practitioners/colleagues
- Work colleagues
- Insurers (in cases of suspected fraud)
- Healthcare facilities
Once a complaint is made to the BPOA, they will appoint an investigator from the Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI) to investigate it and look for corroborating evidence. As part of their investigation, they may interview all involved parties along with requesting pertinent records via subpoenas. You could also be asked to submit an official written response to the complaint. A BEI investigator may even make an unannounced visit to your practice as part of the investigation. You have the right to deny them access or decline to answer questions unless your attorney is present. Any information the investigator receives could be used to bolster the licensing board's case against you.
If the investigative process fails to uncover enough evidence, then the licensing board may decide to dismiss the complaint. If they do find evidence of possible misconduct, they may continue to proceed against you.
If the investigation uncovers significant evidence to substantiate the complaint, the licensing board offer to forego a formal hearing by offering to let you sign a consent agreement. With this legal agreement, you will voluntarily submit to the disciplinary measures recommended by the licensing board. This may be an attractive option if disciplinary action is inevitable. It allows you to avoid a hearing process, and a good attorney can also negotiate favorable terms in the agreement, such as allowing you to keep your license or providing a mechanism for reinstatement. However, this is a binding agreement, and there may be better options for resolving the complaint, so we don't recommend signing one without the advice of an experienced license defense attorney.
If no consent agreement is offered or accepted, the case moves into the hearing phase. You'll be summoned to appear before a state hearing examiner to show cause why you should be allowed to retain your license. After the hearing, the examiner will present their recommendations to the licensing board, which could potentially lead to your license being revoked. Your best hope of a favorable outcome at this hearing is to have an experienced attorney representing your interests.
Why You Need a Professional License Defense Attorney
Healthcare professionals often underestimate the significance of misconduct allegations against them and assume that simply explaining the situation to a licensing board should clear up any misunderstandings. Unfortunately, licensing boards prioritize public safety above all else in these matters, especially when it comes to the healthcare professions. The board has broad authority to discipline you based only on a preponderance of the evidence, and you have no guaranteed presumption of innocence. You're effectively at a disadvantage from the moment the complaint is filed.
The best way to even the odds in this situation is by having skilled legal representation--a lawyer who understands the complexities of the Pennsylvania license discipline process and can effectively advocate for your interests throughout. A good attorney can review the complaint against you, develop a winning defense strategy, call witnesses, gather evidence, and even negotiate with the licensing board to have the complaint dismissed or penalties minimized--often before the matter even reaches the hearing stage.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has extensive experience with disciplinary cases like yours, and he and his team know how to get the best results for their clients. Attorney Lento can:
- Act as your official legal representative in all interactions with the board and the BPOA.
- Draft a compelling written response to the complaint to increase the chances of having the matter dropped.
- Negotiate with the board to dismiss the complaint or agree to lesser penalties.
- Negotiate the best possible terms in a consent agreement.
- If necessary, defend you at a formal hearing.
Healthcare Institutions in Lower Paxton Township, PA
Situated just east of Harrisburg (Pennsylvania's state capital), Lower Paxton Township is home. to about 53,500 people--making it more populous than Harrisburg itself. The healthcare facilities serving Lower Paxton Township hold their staff and employees to high ethical and professional standards. If you are employed by one of these facilities, be conscious that your job could be on the line if any allegations arise regarding a breach of professional ethics or standards.
Healthcare organizations serving the Lower Paxton Township, Pennsylvania area include, but are not limited to:
For the past 130 years, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has become a beacon of healthcare services in Pennsylvania and beyond, stretching its reach to multiple states. UPMC administers 40 hospitals plus hundreds more facilities throughout the region. The main UPMC hospital serving Lower Paxton is UPMC Harrisburg, but UPMC also administers outpatient and specialty services across the area, including PinnacleHealth and Internal Medical Associates.
Penn State Health
Penn State Health stands out as a leader among other regional healthcare systems in this area, providing unparalleled care at its numerous hospitals and facilities in 29 counties throughout Pennsylvania. Penn State Health operates the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in nearby Hershey, PA, as well as numerous primary care facilities across the Lower Paxton area.
What Types of Allegations Can Jeopardize a Healthcare License?
The Pennsylvania licensing boards hold their licensed physicians, physician assistants, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other licensed health workers to high standards of excellence and public trust. Most complaints that put one's license in jeopardy will involve some alleged violation of these standards. Some of the more common allegations include the following.
Gross neglect or abuse
This extensive category encompasses any type of mistreatment or neglect that could imperil a patient's safety and well-being. Examples include making serious medical errors such as misdiagnosis or prescription mistakes; violating HIPAA rules by failing to protect patients' health and personal information; inflicting physical, verbal, or emotional abuse; performing unnecessary procedures; or performing procedures that put the patient at unnecessary risk.
Violations in this category are generally related to false representations, billing fraud, or attempts to defraud or deceive a patient or another healthcare provider. Examples include:
- Billing for services not provided
- Overbilling patients or insurance companies;
- "Upcoding" insurance claims;
- Altering patient records for insurance purposes;
- Misrepresenting credentials; or
- Accepting kickbacks for referrals.
Improper handling of medications
The Pennsylvania licensing board takes a dim view of anyone who doesn't safeguard drugs appropriately or who prescribes medications without proper cause. Examples include:
- Prescribing controlled substances for non-medical purposes or without a legitimate medical reason
- Inappropriately self-prescribing
- Falsifying patient records related to drug prescriptions
- Keeping incorrect logs of medical inventories
- Overprescribing medications with addictive qualities (e.g., opioids)
Sexual misconduct/inappropriate relationships
This includes any relationship in which the professional healthcare provider has taken advantage of a patient or colleague, often involving an imbalance of power. Examples include:
- Engaging in sexual contact with a patient (or establishing an unethical romantic relationship with a patient you are treating)
- Failing to maintain proper boundaries between caretaker and patient
- Crossing ethical lines during counseling sessions
- Making unwelcome sexual advances toward colleagues or patients
- Other forms of sexual harassment or abuse
Maintaining sloppy/inaccurate records
Ensuring the safety of patients is paramount in healthcare, and that includes keeping meticulous records. Your professional license could be on the line if you are accused of misrecording patient information or having disorganized medical files, as these can leave room for possible falsification of documents or making serious medical mistakes with patients.
Failure to follow treatment recommendations
If you neglect to abide by a doctor's instructions pertaining to the care of their patient, or if an individual's condition indicates that they need more specialized medical attention and you do not refer them accordingly, then your professional license could be in danger.
As a medical professional, you're charged with protecting the public trust. Any form of substance abuse can impair your judgment and put patients at risk. Even if you are sober while on duty, substance addictions can damage your professional credibility and cast doubt on your judgment. In many cases, the licensing board will suspend your license and require mandatory treatment at best--or revoke your license at worst.
If you are found guilty of certain offenses, particularly those involving moral turpitude or crimes that pertain to your profession, it may disqualify you from holding a professional healthcare license or lead to the revocation of your existing license.
Professional License Defense in Lower Paxton Township
If you are a doctor, nurse, dentist, or other medical professional facing licensing issues in Lower Paxton Township, PA, it is important to have an experienced legal advocate on your side. Our team understands the complexities of license defense and can provide expert advice and counsel throughout the process. The Lento Law Firm can help any of the following medical professionals in Lower Paxton Township, PA:
- Nurse practitioners
- Physician assistants
- Mental health professionals
- Physical therapists
- Additional licensed professionals
You've worked too hard to build your career to have it unfairly derailed by allegations of misconduct. Joseph D. Lento and his team can greatly improve your chances of saving your license and your career. Call the Lento Law firm today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.