After dedicating significant energy and resources to becoming a licensed healthcare professional in Passaic, NJ, you're regarded highly by your patients for the care that you provide. Your commitment has made it possible for them to access quality medical services within their community. At the same time, your entire career hinges on your license--and all it takes is a single allegation of wrongdoing to put your license at risk. That's why it can be so devastating to learn that someone has filed a complaint against you with your licensing board.
Perhaps it was a simple misunderstanding with a disgruntled patient. Maybe it was an honest mistake. Regardless of the situation, the New Jersey licensing boards must take every allegation of misconduct seriously, and they can take action against you based only on the preponderance of the evidence.
Professional License Defense Attorney in Passaic, NJ
Whether you're a physician, physician assistant, nurse, dentist, or other healthcare professional, if an investigation is opened against you, the best way to protect yourself and your license is by hiring experienced legal counsel as soon into the process as possible. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a New Jersey attorney with a long history of effectively safeguarding those accused of misconduct, and he and his team here to provide you with the required legal support and direction to shield your future. Quick legal action from an experienced attorney can often be the difference between having to surrender your license or keeping it intact. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
The Disciplinary Process for Healthcare Professionals in Passaic, NJ
If someone makes a complaint against your professional license, the New Jersey state licensing board that issued your license will also investigate the complaint and make a determination regarding disciplinary action. For instance, if you are a doctor or surgeon, the State Board of Medical Examiners would oversee this process, while nurses answer to the State Board of Nursing, etc. Although each licensing board has its own rules and regulations when dealing with disciplinary actions taken against health professionals, most cases typically follow these stages.
Filing a formal complaint is the standard first step in any disciplinary process. Anyone from patients to insurance companies can file a complaint with your licensing board, or alternatively, if you have been recently convicted of a crime, then the courts may inform your licensing board, and that may trigger an investigation.
Response to Complaint
After a complaint is lodged, you will receive written notification from the licensing board regarding the issue and be asked to submit your response in writing. This step is essential since it not only allows you to relay your version of events but also provides an opportunity for exoneration if you can support your claims with evidence. This can quite often stop any further action taken against you by the board. A good license attorney can assist you in drafting a convincing written response.
The next step in the process is for the licensing board to appoint a Preliminary Evaluation Committee (PEC) to investigate the complaint against you. The PEC will assign an investigator to gather evidence to corroborate the allegations. During the investigation, the investigator will likely talk to the complainant and any witnesses involved in relation to the matter. Furthermore, they may also issue subpoenas for relevant documents as well as engaging in additional fact-finding research. You might be asked to provide a statement under oath at some point.
Should the investigation reveal substantial evidence that affirms the claims, then the board may offer to settle through a consent order as an alternative to going through a formal hearing. This is an obligatory agreement in which you agree to and accept any disciplinary steps proposed by the board. These measures can range from a reprimand to a license revocation and may also include additional educational training or a probationary period. A consent order isn't always the most favorable option, especially if you have evidence to refute the complaint. You should consult with an attorney before signing a consent order to make sure it's the best choice among your options.
Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
If you do not accept or sign a consent order, then the board will call on the services of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who will adjudicate your case through an administrative hearing. At the hearing, both sides will be given the opportunity to present evidence and witness testimony, cross-examine witnesses, and make arguments on your behalf in an effort to prove or disprove the allegations. During this process, the ALJ will take into account all relevant information before making a decision regarding any disciplinary action needed. At best, you might win your case and have the complaint dismissed, or possibly walk away with a formal reprimand. At worst, the board could permanently revoke your license to practice.
Healthcare Institutions in Passaic, NJ
Situated in eastern New Jersey, the City of Passaic is home to about 70,000 people, but as it is located in the heart of the NYC suburban area, the population of surrounding communities is much greater. This community is home to multiple hospitals, healthcare centers and outpatient facilities that are committed to providing the highest standard of care in a professional setting. Just as state licensing boards take all allegations of misconduct seriously, these establishments also demand accountability from their staff members. As such, any accusation against a licensed medical practitioner may result in not only sanctions but possible termination from employment.
The main healthcare systems and facilities serving the Passaic area include, but are not limited to:
St. Mary's General Hospital
Located in the heart of Passaic, St. Mary's General Hospital is an esteemed acute care facility recognized for its top-of-the line cardiovascular and cancer treatment services. It is part of the expansive Prime Healthcare Network that operates 45 medical centers across 14 US states. St. Mary's also shares its campus with Kindred Hospital East New Jersey, a hospital focused on extended acute care.
St. Joseph's Health
As one of the top healthcare providers in the State of New Jersey, St. Joseph's Health operates multiple facilities across the East New Jersey area. Their primary hospital is St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in nearby Paterson.
Why Hire a Professional License Defense Attorney
Given the potential consequences of an investigation and possible hearing, it's in your best interest to hire a professional license defense attorney who can provide the necessary legal representation throughout the entire process. Many licensed healthcare professionals underestimate the gravity of the allegations against them and try to resolve the complaint with the board on their own. Unfortunately, they fail to understand that their licensing board has no obligation to give them the benefit of the doubt because the board's job is to protect public safety. If you're accused of wrongdoing, the board or the ALJ only needs to be convinced that you are more likely than not to have committed the offense, at which point they can suspend or revoke your license.
An experienced attorney will be able to review all of the evidence presented against you, help you build a strong case, draft a compelling written response, negotiate directly with the board to resolve the complaint with lenient penalties (or no penalties at all), and if necessary, defend you at the formal hearing. In short, your chances of keeping your license are significantly higher with a good attorney in your corner.
What Accusations Can Jeopardize My Healthcare License in New Jersey?
Medical professionals in Passaic must adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards set by their respective licensing boards. The majority of complaints that could potentially harm your license will be due to allegations that you neglected these criteria or acted in a way that would undermine public confidence. Examples include, but are not limited to:
As a healthcare provider, it is unethical to engage in any romantic or sexual liaisons with patients. Violating this moral code can result in the revocation of your medical license and damage to your professional reputation. Other forms of sexual misconduct may include sexual harassment or making unwanted sexual advances toward patients, colleagues, or employees.
Gross Neglect or Abuse
Medical practitioners can face grave consequences if they are discovered to have acted negligently towards their patients, such as providing deficient care, misdiagnosing an illness, prescribing the wrong medicines and dosages amounts, disclosing confidential medical details without authorization, or abusing a patient physically, verbally or psychologically.
Fraudulent activities can take many forms, like billing for unprovided services or procedures, inflating insurance claims with "upcoding," altering patient data records deliberately and taking kickbacks in exchange for referrals. Fraud can also include misrepresenting your credentials or false advertising.
Drug or Alcohol Abuse
When medicinal professionals unlawfully use illegal substances, misuse prescription drugs, or drink excessively to the point of their judgment being impaired and job performance hindered, they can face losing their license. Even if you're not found to be under the influence while on duty, signs of addiction can damage your credibility and weaken public trust.
Inappropriate Handling of Controlled Substances
As a medical professional, you have access to powerful drugs that can be easily abused and stolen. The boards, and indeed federal laws, are very strict about how these substances are ordered, prescribed, documented, stored, and disposed of. Any violations or negligence in this area can lead to severe disciplinary action. Examples of inappropriate drug handling include, but are not limited to:
- Providing controlled substances without a prescription
- Writing prescriptions with no medical justification
- Prescribing suspicious amounts of medications with a high propensity for addiction, like opioids
- Maintaining inaccurate inventories of medication
- Pilfering from medical inventories for personal use
Poor Record-Keeping Practices
Poor record-keeping practices can endanger the health of patients and lead to a myriad of legal and regulatory issues, including the potential loss of your license. Common record-keeping violations include:
- Failing to document patient interactions or treatments
- Making unauthorized alterations to documents
- Failing to protect confidential information
- Falsifying medical records
- Providing incomplete or inaccurate information in reports or billing claims
Failure to Follow Protocols for Patient Care
Medical practitioners have a responsibility to make patient safety their top priority. This includes following established protocols and quality guidelines for patient care. Poor practice could include:
- Failing to adhere to the accepted standards of care in diagnosing or treating patients
- Not obtaining informed consent before performing procedures or treatments
- Providing inadequate follow-up care or ignoring patient complaints
- Failing to report adverse events or outcomes, such as medical errors.
- Disregarding a doctor's instructions regarding care of their patient
- Failing to refer a patient for specialist care when indicated
Being convicted of certain crimes can disqualify you from holding a healthcare license in the eyes of the licensing boards--especially crimes of moral turpitude or crimes related to your work.
Legal Help for Licensed Healthcare Professionals in Passaic, NJ
As a licensed doctor, nurse, or other health professional practicing in Passaic, your career depends on your license. One complaint could potentially put your livelihood at risk and disrupt all of your future plans. If you are facing any kind of complaint, enlisting an experienced attorney should be one of the first steps you take to protect your future. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is highly experienced in representing medical professionals in board disciplinary cases in New Jersey, doing whatever is necessary to reach a favorable outcome for you. With years of experience on his side, he will work diligently to get you the best result possible. The Lento Law Firm can help with licensing defense issues for any of these professionals in Passaic, NJ:
- Nurse practitioners
- Physician assistants
- Mental health professionals
- Physical therapists
- Other licensed professionals
Don't risk your career by going through a license investigation alone. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn more about how we can help.