As a licensed healthcare professional in Upper Darby, PA, you have invested lots of time and money to develop a career based on helping others. But what happens when a doctor, nurse, dentist, or other medical professional is accused of wrongdoing? The healthcare professions rely heavily on public trust, and all it may take is a single allegation to have that trust jeopardized. State licensing boards take allegations of misconduct very seriously, and an investigation by the board could result in the loss of your professional license.
If this has happened to you, you're likely dealing with lots of anxiety over an uncertain future. What happens if the board issues disciplinary action against you? What happens if you lose your professional license? How will you support yourself and your family? Will you be able to revive your career, or is your career effectively over?
Professional License Defense Attorney in Upper Darby, PA
If you are a medical professional in Upper Darby, PA, whose license is under investigation, it is crucial to have experienced legal representation on your side. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has successfully defended the licenses of healthcare professionals across Pennsylvania. Hiring the right attorney can make a huge difference in your case and greatly increase your chances of keeping your license. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
The Disciplinary Process for Licensed Health Professionals in Upper Darby, PA
State licensing boards in Pennsylvania hold their licensees to high standards of ethical and professional excellence. If you are accused of violating these standards, the board that granted your license is responsible for deciding what disciplinary action to take against you. If you are a licensed physician, for example, you will answer to the State Board of Medicine; if you work as a nurse, the Board of Nursing; and if you are a dentist, the State Board of Dentistry.
In Pennsylvania, the professional license disciplinary procedure is similar for all professions, including healthcare occupations. The following describes the typical disciplinary process.
A formal complaint to the licensing board is the starting point for most license disciplinary proceedings. Pennsylvania allows members of the public, through the Department of State Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, to file formal complaints about licensed medical and other professionals. The majority of complaints against healthcare professionals are made by:
- Other practitioners
- Insurers (in the case of suspected fraud).
- Healthcare facilities
Additionally, if you're convicted of a crime, and the courts notify the licensing board, it could trigger an investigation. In many cases, this could result in an immediate temporary suspension of your license while a probe takes place.
After receiving a complaint, the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs will assign an investigator from the Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI) to look into the matter. While gathering evidence, the BEI investigator may interview the complainant and witnesses, subpoena records, and ask you to respond to the complaint in writing. They may even visit your office unannounced. It is better to decline to answer an investigator's questions unless your attorney is present.
If the investigator's findings are not sufficient to validate the complaint, the board may dismiss the complaint at that point. If sufficient evidence is uncovered, the case moves forward.
Your state licensing board might attempt to negotiate a consent agreement with you if the evidence against your case is strong. A consent agreement involves an admission of guilt from the licensee and voluntary consent to the board's disciplinary recommendations. Although it is not always the best option, a consent arrangement may be a good choice in disciplinary proceedings if it provides a path to having your license reinstated. Consent agreements are legally binding, so we recommend that you consult a professional license defense attorney before signing one.
If you do not sign a consent agreement or the complaint is not dismissed after the investigation, you will be summoned for a formal hearing before a state examiner. You will be asked to show cause why your license should not be revoked. An attorney may be present to represent you and defend your side at the hearing. After the hearing ends, the examiner will make recommendations to the licensing board about any disciplinary actions, which could range from a mild reprimand to full revocation of your license.
Why Hire an Experienced Professional License Defense Attorney
Healthcare professionals who are accused of misconduct frequently underestimate the seriousness of the situation, thinking they can resolve things informally with a statement to the board. However, when it comes to the healthcare professions, the licensing board considers each complaint extremely carefully since they are obligated to safeguard the general public. Anything you say or do may be used as evidence once a complaint is made. To impose discipline, the board only needs to believe you are more than 50% likely to have committed wrongdoing using the "preponderance of evidence" standard.
An experienced Upper Darby professional license defense attorney understands the disciplinary process of state licensing boards and knows how to get you the most favorable outcome possible. They will work tirelessly to review the evidence and prepare a strong defense on your behalf. Having the involvement of a good attorney can often make the difference between losing your professional license and saving it.
The Lento Law Firm can help Upper Darby health professionals keep their licenses intact. Mr. Lento will:
- Review the complaint against you and determine the best arguments to defend your case.
- Gather evidence and witnesses in your support.
- Draft a compelling written response to the complaint on your behalf, thereby improving your chances of having the complaint dismissed with no further action.
- Act as your official legal representative throughout the investigation and disciplinary process.
- Negotiate with the board either to dismiss the complaint or agree to lesser penalties.
- Defend you vigorously in a formal hearing, if needed.
Healthcare Facilities in Upper Darby, PA
Located west of Philadelphia, the Township of Upper Darby, PA, is a thriving community of about 86,000 people, but it is also part of the Greater Philadelphia area, which contains a total population of over 6 million. Numerous hospitals, specialized care facilities, and primary care facilities serve the residents of this region. These facilities hold their physicians, nurses, dentists, and other licensed personnel to high standards of excellence, and threats against one's professional license could result in termination.
Main hospitals serving the Upper Darby area include:
Mercy Fitzerald Hospital
Commonly referred to as "Mercy Fitz," this teaching hospital is part of Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic healthcare system, the largest healthcare system in the region. Trinity Health operates numerous other inpatient and outpatient healthcare facilities in this area.
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania - Cedar Avenue
Located just east of Upper Darby, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania - Cedar Avenue is operated by Penn Medicine, another major healthcare system operating numerous facilities across Philadelphia and beyond.
Lankenau Medical Center
Situated to the northeast of Upper Darby, Lankenau Medical Center is one of four regional acute care hospitals operated by Main Line Health, a non-profit healthcare system serving the western suburbs of Philadelphia.
Allegations that Could Put Your Professional License in Jeopardy in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania
There are many different types of allegations that could lead to an investigation by your licensing board, leading to disciplinary action. Most have something to do with violating the state's ethical and professional standards or otherwise breaking public trust. Some of the most common allegations of wrongdoing include:
Fraud can cover many types of offenses, including, but not limited to:
- Overbilling insurance or patients
- "Upcoding" insurance claims to get more money
- Charging patients or billing insurance for services not provided
- Accepting kickbacks for referrals
- Performing services beyond the scope of your license (e.g., dispensing medications when you're not authorized to prescribe medicine)
- Modifying or falsifying patient records
Patient abuse/gross neglect
This umbrella category includes any form of neglect, abuse, or other behavior that could pose a risk to the safety and well-being of a patient. Examples include:
- Physical and/or sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse (e.g., verbally intimidating or threatening patients)
- Violating patient confidentiality
- Medical errors (e.g., prescribing the wrong medicine or wrong dosage, performing unneeded procedures, or performing procedures in an unsafe manner)
Improper handling of controlled substances
Healthcare professionals who prescribe or dispense controlled substances are subject to strict regulations due to potential abuse. Here are some examples of drug-related offenses:
- Prescribing medicines without a valid reason
- Overprescribing certain types of medication (e.g., opioids)
- Keeping inaccurate records or inventory tracking for medications
- Diverting drugs for street resale and/or personal use
- Dispensing controlled substances without a prescription
Sexual misconduct/inappropriate relationships
It is a serious breach of ethics for doctors and other health professionals to have romantic or sexual relationships with the patients they are treating. Other forms of sexual misconduct include unwelcome sexual advances, harassment, or sexual assault. These acts almost always result in the loss of license.
Maintaining sloppy records
For patients to receive safe and effective treatment, it is crucial that healthcare professionals keep accurate records. If you are charged with falsifying patient records or keeping them in an unorganized way, your license could be at risk.
Not following treatment guidelines
If you are a healthcare provider and you do not follow a doctor's orders regarding their patient, you could face disciplinary action. Likewise, if you fail to refer patients who require specialist care, you could be disciplined.
Substance abuse by doctors or other health professionals is considered a breach of the public trust because alcohol and drugs can affect your judgment and ability to treat patients. If you are accused of misusing prescription drugs or alcohol, you could lose your license.
A criminal conviction may disqualify you from holding a license to practice as a doctor, nurse, dentist, PA, or related professions. This is especially true if the crime was related to your profession or is considered a crime against moral turpitude.
Professional License Defense at Upper Darby, Pennsylvania
Because there is so much at stake, losing your license can have devastating consequences for your professional career and personal life. You have worked too hard to get where you are to risk losing your career over an allegation of wrongdoing. Your entire career hinges on your professional license, and every threat against it should be met firmly and with resolve. While being accused of misconduct can be unnerving and put you at a disadvantage professionally, having an experienced license defense attorney in your corner can turn the odds in your favor. The simple act of hiring the right attorney could be the step that saves your career from ruin.
The Lento Law Firm provides professional license defense services for the following professionals practicing in Upper Darby, PA:
- Nurse practitioners
- Physician assistants
- Mental health professionals
- Physical therapists
- Additional licensed professionals
If you're facing allegations of wrongdoing, a delayed response could easily hurt your chances of resolving the matter without losing your license. The sooner you hire a skilled attorney, the better. Let Attorney Joseph D. Lento work to get you a favorable outcome. Call the Lento Law firm today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.