The medical profession can be highly rewarding but also demanding and complex. As a licensed medical practitioner in Old Bridge Township, NJ, such as a doctor, nurse, physician assistant, anesthesiologist, dentist, or other healthcare provider, you have invested considerably in your career, both in time and money. However, unforeseen circumstances may lead to disciplinary action from the licensing board, putting your license and career at risk. A single error, lapse in judgment, or baseless allegation can compromise your professional integrity and the public's trust.
Old Bridge Township, NJ Professional License Defense Lawyer
Facing accusations of gross negligence, fraud, sexual misconduct, or other breaches of your state board's professional code of conduct requires prompt action to safeguard your rights and future. The initial step is to consult a seasoned New Jersey professional license defense lawyer who can guide you through the intricate disciplinary process. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Professional License Defense Team have extensive experience representing New Jersey healthcare professionals and other licensed pros who are confronted with potential disciplinary action against their practice license. If you are under investigation or facing a disciplinary hearing, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your options.
Disciplinary Process for Medical Professionals in Old Bridge Township, NJ
When a healthcare professional is accused of misconduct, the licensing board responsible for issuing their license will manage the investigation and disciplinary procedure. In New Jersey, for instance, physicians are accountable to the Board of Medical Examiners (BME); nurses to the Board of Nursing (BON); dentists to the State Board of Dentistry; and so on. Although each board's policies and procedures may differ slightly, most disciplinary investigations involving licensed medical professionals follow a similar course. If you have been informed of allegations against you, here's a brief overview of New Jersey's disciplinary process:
Disciplinary actions typically begin with a formal complaint filed with your state licensing board. The complaint can come from various credible sources, such as:
- Insurers (usually in suspected fraud cases)
- Other healthcare professionals
- Healthcare entities
- Court clerks (when a criminal conviction appears on your record)
Notification/Request for Response
Upon receiving a complaint against you, the board's initial action is to send you a formal written notification and request a written response. This presents your first opportunity to share your side of the story. In many instances, a thorough written account of the events, supported by any evidence you can provide, may persuade the board that no further action is required. A skilled license defense attorney can assist you in crafting an effective response.
The next phase involves a comprehensive investigation. The board will typically assign a Preliminary Evaluation Committee (PEC) to oversee the process and an investigator to carry out the groundwork. The inquiry will likely include interviews with relevant parties (including the complainant), subpoenas for pertinent medical records and documents, and other fact-finding measures. The board may also request your appearance before the PEC to answer questions under oath.
If the board's investigation uncovers sufficient evidence of misconduct warranting disciplinary action, they may attempt to negotiate a consent order with you as an alternative to a formal hearing before a judge. A consent order is a legally binding agreement between the state, the board, and you, wherein you acknowledge the wrongdoing and agree to a set of prescribed sanctions. These may include license suspension, mandatory courses, substance abuse treatment (if applicable), and other remedies. A consent order may or may not provide a path toward reinstatement, but if negotiated properly by a skilled attorney, it can leave you in a better position to restore your career once the conditions are met.
Formal Complaint and Hearing
If no consent order is signed, the board will next file a formal complaint against you with the state, and you will be summoned to a formal hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. At this hearing, the board will present its evidence against you, and you will have an opportunity to counter with your own evidence and testimony. You may be represented by an attorney at the hearing. The burden of proof for the board is relatively low, and the judge can rule against you based only on a preponderance of the evidence (meaning the board has to show that it's at least 51 percent likely that you committed the offense). At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will make a decision based on the evidence and applicable laws and recommend specific disciplinary actions, which could include revoking your license to practice.
The Importance of Having an Attorney
It is crucial to understand that the licensing board can decide not to impose disciplinary action at any point in the disciplinary process based on the evidence, your responses, and your level of cooperation. However, attempts to resolve the matter informally by merely "explaining the situation" usually do not work well with the board. Involving a professional license attorney early in the process offers multiple opportunities to present the facts in an organized and persuasive manner, increasing the likelihood that the board will either dismiss the complaint entirely or be open to negotiating lesser penalties that allow you to retain your license.
A competent Old Bridge Township license defense attorney can assist you in the following ways:
- Serve as your official legal representative in all interactions with the board
- Evaluate the complaint against you and gather evidence and witnesses to refute it
- Help draft your initial written response to the complaint in a persuasive manner
- Negotiate with the board to dismiss the complaint, forgo disciplinary action, or agree to lesser penalties
- Negotiate favorable terms for a consent order as an alternative to a hearing
- Defend you in a formal hearing if the process reaches that point
Healthcare Institutions Serving Old Bridge Township, NJ
Located in southeast Middlesex County, the Township of Old Bridge is home to about 66,000 people, but as part of the populous NYC suburbs, the surrounding area has a population totaling in the hundreds of thousands. As a result, Old Bridge has access to numerous healthcare institutions, each of which holds its employees to high standards of ethics and professionalism. Thus, an issue with your healthcare license could also affect your employment status.
The primary healthcare systems serving Old Bridge Township, New Jersey, include:
Hackensack Meridian Health
As one of the largest integrated healthcare systems in eastern New Jersey, Hackensack Meridian Health operates more than a dozen hospitals and dozens more primary care and specialty facilities throughout the region. HMH administers Raritan Bay Medical Center, which has one campus in Old Bridge and another in nearby Perth Amboy, along with numerous outpatient facilities throughout Old Bridge.
RWJBarnabas Health is New Jersey's largest healthcare network, administering hundreds of locations across the state. The Robert Woods Johnson University Hospital in nearby New Brunswick serves as the system's anchor hospital, and RWJBarnabas Health also operates a significant number of specialty care and outpatient clinics in and around Old Bridge.
Potential Violations That May Jeopardize Your License
The State of New Jersey enforces stringent standards of ethics and professionalism on its licensed health professionals in order to ensure public safety and public trust. Thus, most allegations that could lead to the loss of your license are related to breaches of those standards of conduct. Common allegations that may provoke disciplinary action include, but are not limited to:
Fraud covers an extensive array of activities, such as:
- Excessive billing of patients or insurers
- Deliberately using incorrect insurance codes to inflate charges
- Falsifying patient diagnoses for insurance purposes
- Billing patients or insurers for services not rendered
- Doing procedures beyond the scope of your license
- Receiving kickbacks in exchange for patient referrals
- Altering patient medical records (e.g., for insurance purposes or to cover up a medical error)
Patient Mistreatment or Negligence
This comprehensive category encompasses any form of abuse or negligence that endangers a patient's safety, health, or well-being. Examples include:
Physical abuse (e.g., striking, sexual assault)
Emotional abuse (e.g., verbally attacking or threatening a patient)
Unintentional abuse (e.g., pushing a patient beyond their physical/emotional limits)
Breaching patient confidentiality (e.g., HIPAA violations)
"Medical errors" is a broad term that may refer to anything from a minor mistake (e.g., prescribing the wrong medication) to extreme negligence (e.g., performing the wrong surgery on a patient, performing an unnecessary procedure, or performing a procedure in a manner that puts a patient at unneeded risk).
Improper Prescription or Management of Medication
Accusations of irresponsibly prescribing or dispensing medication or operating outside the scope of your license can put your career at risk. You can also face disciplinary action for inaccurate inventory tracking, misappropriating drugs for personal use, and related offenses.
Sexual Misconduct/Inappropriate Relationships
It is highly unethical for healthcare professionals to engage in romantic or sexual relationships with patients under their care. Other instances of sexual misconduct may involve unwelcome sexual advances (toward patients or colleagues), sexual harassment, sexual assault, etc. Such actions typically result in license revocation, and even a false allegation could jeopardize your career because licensing boards take these matters extremely seriously.
Inadequate Record Keeping
In the healthcare sector, precise and comprehensive documentation is crucial for patient safety. Your license may be at risk if you are accused of keeping disorganized or incomplete patient records or falsifying records for any reason.
The use of illegal drugs, prescription medication misuse, and excessive alcohol consumption can all threaten your professional license because substance abuse raises doubts about your ability to treat patients safely. Moreover, if a colleague suspects you of substance abuse, they have an ethical obligation to report it to the board—particularly if you are observed under the influence while at work.
Certain criminal offenses may be considered a violation of state regulations and could jeopardize your license—particularly offenses such as DWI or crimes involving moral turpitude. You are also required to self-report any criminal conviction to your licensing board, and failure to do so could result in disciplinary action even if your offense would not have otherwise led to discipline.
Professional License Defense for Licensed Healthcare Professionals in Old Bridge Township, New Jersey
The Lento Law Firm possesses extensive experience defending licensed healthcare professionals in Old Bridge Township and other parts of New Jersey who may be facing disciplinary action. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Professional License Defense Team can assist you if you are licensed to practice in any of the following roles:
- Physician (M.D. or D.O)
- Nurse Practitioner
- Physician Assistant
- Physical Therapist
- Mental Health Professionals
- Various other licensed professions
If you are an Old Bridge Township healthcare professional facing disciplinary action from your licensing board, your first course of action should be to contact a knowledgeable attorney who can help safeguard your rights and your career. Whether your case is in the investigation stage or you have been summoned to a formal hearing, Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Team will work tirelessly to build a robust defense on your behalf and protect your rights.
We recognize the importance of your career, and we will do everything within our power to help you retain your license. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation immediately.