Establishing a career as a licensed healthcare professional in Middletown Township, NJ, has been no easy task. Whether you're a doctor, physician assistant, nurse, dentist, or other professional, you've invested time and money into schooling and even more time into accumulating enough field experience to qualify for licensure--all because of your passion for helping people. That's why it can be so traumatic to discover that an allegation of misconduct is now threatening your license.
It seems ironic that all you've worked for could be derailed by a single complaint--but it is, in fact, true. The state licensing boards in New Jersey (particularly those related to healthcare professions) take every allegation of wrongdoing seriously and are committed to investigating every complaint. What's more, they don't even need conclusive proof to find you at fault: they can suspend or revoke your license based only on a preponderance of the evidence. With no license, you have no career--and no livelihood.
Professional License Defense Attorney in Middletown Township, NJ
The best way to prevent this terrible outcome is to contact an experienced Middletown Township professional license defense attorney as soon as you become aware of any allegation against your license. The Lento Law Firm has many years of experience representing people in your situation. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his license defense legal team can greatly improve your prospects for keeping your license, both through skilled negotiation and effective defense strategies. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
What the Disciplinary Process Looks Like for Licensed Medical Professionals in Middletown Township
As a New Jersey medical professional, the licensing board that issued your license (e.g., Board of Medical Examiners, Board of Nursing, Board of Dentistry, etc.) will also investigate any allegations of misconduct and impose disciplinary action as it deems appropriate.
Although the protocols for disciplinary proceedings may vary slightly between boards, the overall steps of this process remain largely consistent. Here's a quick overview of the disciplinary process in general.
Most of the time, disciplinary action is set in motion when someone submits an official complaint to your respective state's licensing board. Any individual can do this, but with healthcare professionals, more often than not, these complaints come from one of the following sources:
- Other practitioners;
- Insurance companies (in cases involving suspected fraud);
- Healthcare facilities; and/or
- Court clerks (if the court reports a criminal conviction that appears on your record).
Request for Response
Next, the licensing board will send you a notification of the complaint and its details, requesting that you submit a response in writing. This is an important opportunity for you to share your version of what happened, and if you can back up your claims with supporting evidence, the board may opt to dismiss the complaint with no further action. An experienced license defense attorney can help you draft a well-crafted response to improve your chances of getting the complaint dismissed.
The licensing board will assign a Preliminary Evaluation Committee (PEC) to review your complaint. This committee will appoint an investigator who can collect evidence in order to validate the accusations against you – such as interviewing witnesses involved in the case and/or requesting documents or records relevant to it. Additionally, you may be asked to give testimony under oath.
In some cases, the PEC may offer a consent order—essentially a proposed settlement agreement between you and the board. A consent order is effectively an admission of guilt on your part, along with your agreement to accept the board's disciplinary actions, in lieu of dragging you through a formal hearing. Obviously, this outcome isn't always the best choice, but if disciplinary action is inevitable due to compelling evidence, a good attorney can often use this as an opportunity to negotiate for leniency--for example, having the consent order outline certain conditions you must agree to abide by for your license to remain in effect.
Formal Hearing and Determination
If no consent order is reached, the state licensing board will submit a formal complaint against you. Consequently, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will summon you to an official hearing. You may opt to have representation from an attorney during this time, and both parties are allowed to present evidence or give testimony for review. All relevant details must be considered before any decisions can be made. After the hearing concludes, the judge will decide if you are accountable and come to a conclusion on what disciplinary action must be taken. This may include revoking your license as decided by the licensing board.
How a License Defense Attorney Can Help
Some licensed professionals underestimate the gravity of a license investigation, wrongly assuming they simply need to "explain themselves" to the board to get the complaint dismissed. But the process is much more complex than that, and unlike being accused of a crime, you do not have the benefit of being considered "innocent until proven guilty." If the board is more than 50 percent convinced of your wrongdoing, they have the authority to penalize you, even possibly revoking your license to practice. The stakes are high because your career is on the line. If you are not well-prepared and do not have a good attorney, it could result in severe consequences.
Having an experienced Middletown Township license defense attorney can even the odds and give you a fighting chance at retaining your license and livelihood. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to help you construct a response, guide you through the investigation process, handle all communications with the board, examine the evidence, and prepare compelling arguments for your defense. In many cases, the right attorney can negotiate a favorable resolution to the complaint before the matter even reaches the formal hearing stage. Ultimately, having an experienced license defense lawyer by your side may make the difference between retaining or losing your license.
With a long-standing record of success, Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team have achieved favorable results for their clients facing allegations of misconduct. The Lento Law Firm can:
- Assess the accusations directed your way and gather convincing proof and testimonies to exonerate you.
- Draft an effective, persuasive written response that can possibly get the complaint dismissed at an early stage.
- Represent you as your authorized legal advocate in all dealings with the board and/or Administrative Law Judge.
- Tactfully negotiate with the licensing board either to reject the complaint or reach an agreement on more lenient penalties.
- Defend you in a formal hearing, if required.
Healthcare Institutions Serving Middletown Township, NJ
Situated along Sandy Hook Bay, where the Raritan River empties into the Atlantic Ocean, Middletown Township is home to 67,000 people, but it also sits in a highly populated area where the New York City suburbs intersect with the Jersey Shore. The medical facilities in this area hold their employees and staff to the highest standards of professional and ethical excellence. Therefore, if your license is called into question while working at one of these facilities, it could potentially jeopardize your job security, as well.
While there are numerous inpatient and outpatient medical facilities serving Middletown Township and the surrounding area, the largest healthcare organization serving this area is Hackensack Meridian Health, one of the largest integrated providers in New Jersey, overseeing 17 hospitals and more than 500 patient care facilities statewide. HMH administers several key facilities in the Middletown Township vicinity, including:
- Bayshore Medical Center: a 204-bed hospital located in nearby Holmdel Township, offering not only inpatient/outpatient medical and surgical services but also specialized services like wound healing, sleep care, and bariatrics.
- Riverview Medical Center: a 476-bed acute care community hospital located in nearby Red Bank, NJ.
- Raritan Bay Medical Center: a 501-bed comprehensive care hospital located in Perth Amboy, NJ.
What Can Cause Healthcare Professionals and Others to Lose Their License in New Jersey?
The New Jersey regulatory boards tend to hold their licensees to high standards of excellence, both ethically and professionally. Most allegations that could cost you your license, therefore, stem from an allegation that you have somehow violated these standards or otherwise compromised public trust. Below are some of the most common examples.
Sexual misconduct or unethical relationships
It's considered a huge ethical breach for any licensed medical professional to engage in an intimate relationship with a patient they are treating. Furthermore, inappropriate advances (or making unwelcome comments to a patient or colleague), harassment, and assault are all considered sexual misconduct and will be met with severe repercussions—including license revocation or suspension pending investigation.
Fraudulent actions such as upcoding insurance claims, billing for nonexistent services, falsifying patient records, lying about credentials, or receiving kickbacks in exchange for referrals can all lead to license suspension or outright revocation.
Patient abuse/gross neglect
Healthcare professionals who are accused of committing physical, verbal, or emotional abuse on patients may face license revocation. So can health practitioners who are accused of other forms of neglect, such as failure to provide essential care, incorrectly prescribing medications, wrong diagnoses, breach of patient privacy, performing unnecessary procedures, or performing procedures in a way that puts the patient at unnecessary risk.
Inappropriate handling of medications
The dispensation of controlled substances comes under strict state and federal regulations because of the potential for damage they can do to patients. Prescribing medications without a good medical reason, administering medications without a prescription, using medications for the wrong purpose, mislabeling drugs, mishandling controlled substances, self-medicating, or prescribing suspicious amounts of opioids can all lead to the suspension or revocation of a healthcare professional's license.
Errors or negligence in record-keeping
Accurate record-keeping is an essential part of providing quality healthcare, and the New Jersey regulatory boards take it very seriously. Negligence in maintaining patient records, failing to document care, or deliberately altering documents are all considered serious violations of professional conduct that can potentially lead to license revocation.
Healthcare practitioners who have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder (including addiction) may have their license revoked by the state board unless they enter into a recovery program and comply with certain stipulations. This is done to protect the safety of patients, as an impaired practitioner can put the lives of those in their care at risk. If you are accused of being intoxicated or high while at work, you also risk losing your license.
In New Jersey, any healthcare practitioner convicted of certain crimes could potentially have their license revoked. This includes convictions for crimes of moral turpitude, such as fraud, theft, sexual assault, or drug-related crimes. You can also face disciplinary action for failing to self-report any criminal conviction to your licensing board, even if that crime doesn't disqualify you from holding a professional license.
Professional License Defense for Licensed Professionals in Middletown Township, New Jersey
If you are a professional in Middletown Township and have been accused of misconduct, the Lento Law Firm is here to help. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team have successfully defended many professionals against disciplinary cases in New Jersey. We can help any of the following professionals facing licensure issues:
- Physician (M.D. or D.O)
- Nurse practitioner
- Physician assistant
- Physical therapist
- Mental health professionals
- Other licensed professions
Don't let allegations of professional misconduct derail your career. Protect yourself from the start by acquiring an experienced New Jersey license defense attorney to handle your case. Attorney Joseph D Lento and his team have what it takes to put you in a much better position to secure and retain your license, so take proactive steps for success now. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.