As a skilled physician, nurse, dentist, or another healthcare practitioner in Millcreek Township, PA, you have devoted yourself to providing high-quality care and services that your patients can trust. You have built an esteemed career through dedication and learning, constantly striving to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in treatment methods. At the same time, you live in the stark reality that public trust is fragile, and if your state licensing board feels that trust has been violated by allegations of misconduct, they could launch an investigation that could easily result in having your license to practice revoked. And all it takes is a single complaint to put your entire career at risk.
Professional License Defense Attorney in Millcreek Township, PA
If you are a healthcare professional in Millcreek Township, and you've found yourself in the unwelcome situation of having your license investigated, you may be feeling a great deal of apprehension right now--and with good reason. Whether the complaint arises from a simple misunderstanding, an honest mistake, or even a completely false accusation--the implications for your license are profound. State licensing boards have broad authority to invoke discipline--and a low burden of proof to find you guilty. That's why it is essential to ensure your rights are protected during the investigation process by hiring an experienced Pennsylvania license defense attorney. With an accomplished attorney, you have a significantly greater chance of getting a favorable outcome and keeping your license. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has extensive experience with cases like yours, and he and his team will work to get you the best possible resolution for your case. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.
The Disciplinary Process for Medical Professionals in Millcreek Township, PA
In Pennsylvania, the licensing board that issued your professional licensure is also in charge of administering disciplinary action for any misconduct or violations. For example, if you are a doctor, you will be answerable to the State Board of Medicine; nurses will report to the Board of Nursing; and dentists must adhere to the guidelines set forth by the State Board of Dentistry. The disciplinary process for licensed professionals in Pennsylvania follows a fairly uniform protocol that moves through the following stages.
For licensed professionals, disciplinary actions almost always begin with a formal complaint. In Pennsylvania, all complaints are made through the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA). Although anyone can initiate a complaint against a healthcare professional, they are most often initiated by:
- Other practitioners/colleagues
- Work colleagues
- Insurers (in cases of suspected fraud)
- Healthcare facilities
Moreover, any criminal convictions in Pennsylvania will be reported to the relevant licensing board. Depending on the severity of your offense, this may result in an immediate temporary suspension while further investigation is carried out.
After a complaint is submitted to the BPOA, an investigator from the Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI) will be assigned to look into it. The investigation process includes speaking with the complainant and any relevant witnesses, as well as issuing subpoenas for documents. You may also be asked for a formal response to the complaint in writing. Should a BEI investigator contact you or arrive unannounced at your office, we strongly encourage that you refrain from responding to any questions without the assistance of an attorney. Any information you provide may be used against you in the licensing board's proceedings and must, therefore, be shared lightly.
In cases where the investigator finds insufficient evidence to support a complaint, the licensing board may choose to dismiss it altogether. If there is enough proof found, however, they can proceed with further disciplinary action.
If the evidence against you is particularly compelling, the licensing board may attempt to bypass formal proceedings by offering to negotiate a consent agreement with you. By signing a consent agreement, you are not only accepting responsibility for the violation but also pledging to adhere to the corrective measures imposed by the board. While not always the ideal route, a consent agreement can be the best option when discipline is likely, especially if it grants an opportunity for eventual license reinstatement. So before you sign any type of consent agreement, it's recommended to consult with an attorney knowledgeable in administration law.
If no consent agreement is achieved or the complaint is not dismissed following the investigation, you will then be summoned to appear before a state hearing examiner (preferably with an attorney present), where you must show cause why your license should remain valid. After the hearing, the examiner will make final recommendations to the licensing board regarding disciplinary action against you--up to and including revoking your license entirely.
Why Hire an Experienced Professional License Defense Attorney
When healthcare professionals face allegations of misconduct, they often underestimate the gravity of their position and think that simply "explaining themselves" to the board will resolve any misunderstanding. What they fail to realize is that protecting public safety is always the top priority for licensing boards, and when it comes to allegations against licensed health professionals, there's no guaranteed presumption of innocence. The board can use anything you say or do as evidence against you, and they can find you guilty only on a preponderance of the evidence. This puts you at a distinct disadvantage throughout the process.
Because this is the case, the best way for you to even the odds is with the help of an experienced license defense attorney. A good attorney knows exactly what is at stake in a professional license defense case, and they understand the intricacies of Pennsylvania's administrative law. They will help you build a strong defense to counter any evidence presented against you--however compelling it may seem. In many cases, the attorney can negotiate directly with the board to have your complaint dismissed or to agree to more lenient penalties before the case even gets to the hearing stage. In short, your chances of keeping your license go up considerably with a good attorney in your corner.
Millcreek Township license defense attorney Joseph D. Lento is an experienced and knowledgeable advocate who can help protect your license in these types of situations. He can:
- Act as your official legal representative in all dealings with the board.
- Gather evidence and witnesses to prove your case.
- Draft an articulate, convincing response to the complaint that could potentially lead to it being dismissed without further action.
- Negotiate with the board directly 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 Millcreek Township, PA
Located along the shores of Lake Erie in northern Pennsylvania, Millcreek Township is home to about 54,000 people. Numerous hospitals, primary care facilities, and specialty facilities serve the healthcare needs of this area, and these facilities maintain high ethical and professional standards for their staff and employees. If you work in one of these facilities and your license comes under scrutiny over alleged violations, your job could be at risk, as well.
Healthcare organizations serving the Millcreek Township, Pennsylvania area include, but are not limited to:
Millcreek Community Hospital
Operated by LECOM Health, Millcreek Community Hospital is an acute-care osteopathic hospital that serves as the primary hospital facility for Millcreek Township. Affiliated with the expansive Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM), Millcreek Community also serves as a teaching hospital for medical students.
Allegheny Health Network (AHN)
Overseeing 14 hospitals and hundreds of outpatient and specialty facilities across the region, AHN is one of the largest health networks serving the Lake Erie area. AHN administers Saint Vincent Hospital in nearby Erie, PA, along with several outpatient locations serving Erie and Millcreek Township.
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is another major healthcare provider serving western PA with 40 hospitals and hundreds of other facilities--including UPMC Urgent Care-Erie South, UPMC Hamot, and UPMC Rehabilitation Institute in Millcreek Township.
What Allegations Could Put Your Healthcare License at Risk?
The Pennsylvania licensing boards are dedicated to upholding the most rigorous professional and ethical standards for all their licensees. If you're facing disciplinary action as a doctor, nurse, dentist, or other health professional, it is likely because of an allegation of ethics violations, violations of standards of care, or any other breach of public trust. Let's look at some of the most common examples of license-endangering accusations.
The category of fraud encompasses many possible offenses, including billing for services not provided, overbilling patients or insurance, "upcoding" insurance claims to get higher payouts, tampering with patient records, misrepresenting credentials to clients or employers, accepting kickbacks for referrals, and performing services outside the scope of your license.
Gross neglect or abuse
This expansive category covers any form of neglect or mistreatment that could put a patient's safety and welfare at risk. Examples include physical, verbal, or emotional abuse; medical errors (e.g., serious misdiagnoses, prescribing wrong medicines/dosages); violating HIPAA regulations regarding patient confidentiality; and performing unnecessary procedures (or doing so in a way that endangers patient health).
Improper prescribing or dispensing of medications
Most medications are considered controlled substances, and healthcare professionals who prescribe or dispense medications must adhere to strict regulations or processes. Violations in this category may include, but are not limited to:
- Prescribing medicines with no valid medical reason
- Overprescribing certain addictive medications (e.g., opioids)
- Inaccurate inventory tracking of medications
- Diverting patient medications for personal or street use
- Dispensing controlled substances without a prescription
Sexual misconduct/inappropriate relationships
Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals have a solemn ethical obligation not to engage in any romantic or sexual relations with those whom they are treating. Furthermore, unwelcome advances (toward patients/colleagues), sexual harassment, and sexual assault all comprise serious forms of professional misconduct that can lead to the revocation of one's license, especially if there is evidence to back up the claims.
Patient safety is of the utmost priority in healthcare, and keeping accurate records plays a crucial role. If you're accused of inaccurately recording patient data or maintaining medical documents in a disorderly manner, your license may be at risk.
Failure to follow treatment recommendations
Your license could be jeopardized if you fail to follow a doctor's orders regarding the care of their patient or if a patient's condition indicates the need for specialist care and you fail to refer them.
For medical professionals, substance abuse is viewed as a violation of public confidence since it can limit your discernment and jeopardize the well-being of patients. If you are misusing prescription drugs, engaging in illicit drug use, or consuming alcohol in harmful amounts, then your healthcare license could be suspended or revoked.
Being convicted of certain crimes can cause you to lose your medical license, particularly over crimes of moral turpitude or crimes related to your specific profession.
Professional License Defense for Millcreek Township Healthcare Professionals
If you are a licensed professional involved in any aspect of the practice of medicine in PA, you must understand that any allegation of misconduct could potentially ruin your career. State licensing boards have broad authority to impose discipline and a low burden of proof for determining your guilt. Involving a skilled professional license defense attorney early in the process can quite possibly save your career.
The Lento Law Firm can help any of the following medical professionals practicing in Millcreek Township, PA:
- Nurse practitioners
- Physician assistants
- Mental health professionals
- Physical therapists
- Additional licensed professionals
If you're currently facing allegations of misconduct, don't wait until you're summoned to a hearing to call an experienced Pennsylvania attorney. Joseph D. Lento and his team are prepared to help you find the best possible resolution. Call the Lento Law firm today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.