As a licensed medical professional in Wilkes-Barre, PA, you have devoted yourself to providing exceptional healthcare services and building a solid career. You've invested years of your life into study and field experience, and you consistently strive to stay informed of the latest treatment methods so that your patients can trust in your high-quality care. That's why it can be so devastating to find out that someone has made an allegation of misconduct against you and that your professional license is under investigation. Such an accusation can trigger an investigation by your state licensing board, and if they are convinced on a preponderance of the evidence that you have violated their standards of excellence, ethics, or professionalism, you could easily face significant disciplinary action--even the loss of your license, and by extension, your career.
Professional License Defense Attorney in Wilkes-Barre, PA
While facing an investigation into your license is a scary prospect (understandably so), you're not without options. You don't have to navigate the process on your own. With an experienced professional license defense attorney in your corner, you have a significantly greater chance of getting a favorable resolution and keeping your license. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his license defense team understand the gravity of this situation and will work diligently to protect your rights and your career. Our team has years of experience in defending healthcare and other professionals throughout Pennsylvania, including the Wilkes-Barre area. To schedule a consultation, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.
The Disciplinary Process for Health Professionals in Wilkes-Barre, PA
In Pennsylvania, any professional misconduct or violations are monitored and disciplined by the same licensing board that provided your license. For instance, if you're a doctor, you must answer to the State Board of Medicine; nurses answer to the Board of Nursing; dentists are accountable to the State Board of Dentistry, etc. Beyond that, the disciplinary process is fairly uniform in Pennsylvania for all licensed professionals. If you're accused of wrongdoing, your case will move through the following stages.
For licensed professionals, the procedure for disciplinary action always starts with a formal complaint. In Pennsylvania, this is done through the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA). Although any member of the public 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
Furthermore, any criminal offenses committed in Pennsylvania will be communicated to the corresponding licensing board. Depending on your crime's gravity, this could bring about an immediate provisional suspension while further assessment is conducted.
Once a complaint is reported to the BPOA, an investigator from the Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI) will conduct a comprehensive inquiry. This includes interviews with the complainant and any applicable witnesses, as well as subpoenas for evidence. You may also be asked to provide an official response to the complaint in writing. If an investigator from the BEI contacts you or comes to your office unannounced, we recommend that you do not answer any questions without a lawyer's presence. The information you give may be used in proceedings against you.
When the investigation turns up insufficient evidence to confirm an allegation, the licensing board will likely dismiss it at this point. If there is sufficient proof found, they can take steps towards further disciplinary measures.
In some cases, the licensing board may propose a consent agreement with you in lieu of a formal hearing. This is basically an admission of guilt on your part, along with an agreement to go along with the Board's recommended disciplinary actions. It's important to understand that if you accept a consent agreement, it becomes a matter of public record, so it's not always the best course of action. However, if disciplinary action is inevitable, it may be your best solution--especially if your attorney can negotiate for lenient penalties or a pathway to have your license reinstated.
If a consent agreement is neither offered nor accepted, the next step in the process is to summon you to a formal hearing before a state hearing examiner to show cause why your healthcare license should remain in effect. An attorney may advocate for you at this hearing as your official representative. After the hearing concludes, the examiner will present their final recommendations to the licensing board concerning your disciplinary action--possibly even revoking your license in its entirety.
Why You Need an Experienced Professional License Defense Attorney
Licensed healthcare and other professionals sometimes underestimate the severity of their situation when facing accusations of misconduct, believing that simply "explaining themselves" to the board will resolve the problem. That is a mistaken assumption. Public safety is always paramount with state licensing boards, even at the expense of their licensees, so you're not guaranteed a presumption of innocence against any allegations. The board has broad authority to invoke discipline, and they can find you guilty only on a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, you're entering the disciplinary process at a disadvantage, and the burden of proof is on you to show why they should NOT penalize you or take away your license.
That's why it's so important to work with an experienced professional license defense attorney, preferably at the first sign of trouble. A qualified lawyer has a keen understanding of the Pennsylvania disciplinary process for licensed professionals; they can advocate for you every step of the way and give you the best chance at a favorable outcome. An experienced attorney will be able to negotiate proactively with the board on your behalf, often working out a favorable resolution before the matter goes to a hearing. With this tactical approach, you are much more likely to retain your license or receive lenient punishments compared to if you were unrepresented.
The Lento Law Firm has helped many professionals who find themselves in danger of disciplinary action. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team can help in the following ways:
- Represent you officially and legally in all dealings with the board.
- Collect proof and testimonies to validate your argument.
- Draft a compelling and convincing written response to the complaint (which is often sufficient in itself to get the complaint dismissed).
- Engage in a direct dialogue with the board either to dismiss the complaint or lessen any punitive actions.
- Negotiate the best possible terms in a consent agreement.
- If necessary, defend yourself at a formal hearing.
Healthcare Institutions in Wilkes-Barre, PA
Located in the Wyoming Valley just southwest of Scranton, the city of Wilkes-Barre, PA, is home to about 44,000 people. This area is served by numerous premier healthcare providers (including hospitals, urgent care, specialized care, and primary care facilities) with rigorous ethical and professional standards for staff and employees. If your license comes under review concerning any violations, you could face the possibility of losing your job as well.
Healthcare organizations serving the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania area include, but are not limited to:
Overseeing dozens of facilities across Northeast Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Health is one of the region's most notable healthcare providers. Commonwealth Health administers the 412-bed Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, the largest acute care facility in the area, along with other facilities across the area.
From its origins as a single hospital in Danville, PA, more than a century ago, Geisinger has grown into a combined healthcare and insurance network covering 45 counties in multiple states. Among other area facilities, Geisinger operates the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre.
What Allegations Could Put Your Healthcare License at Risk?
The licensing boards of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are devoted to holding their licensees to high standards of ethical and professional excellence. If your actions as a doctor, nurse, dentist, or another healthcare professional have triggered disciplinary proceedings against you, it is likely because there has been an accusation that you violated ethical principles, were careless when providing care, or breached public trust in some way. Let's investigate some common allegations which could endanger your licensure.
Fraud can cover a wide range of activities, such as charging for services that have not been rendered, overcharging patients or insurance providers, "upcoding" insurance claims to get more revenue, falsely representing your credentials, tampering with patient records, taking kickbacks for referrals, or providing services that are beyond the scope of your licensing authority.
Gross neglect or abuse
Neglect encompasses any form of carelessness or ill-treatment that might put a patient's well-being and safety in jeopardy. Examples include physical, verbal, or emotional mistreatment; medical mistakes such as serious misdiagnoses and incorrect medications/dosage administration; breaching HIPAA regulations concerning patient secrecy; or performing unneeded procedures (or doing so in an unsafe manner).
Sexual misconduct/inappropriate relationships
Healthcare professionals have an ethical responsibility not to engage in any kind of romantic or sexual activity with patients under their care. In addition, unwanted advances (towards patients/peers), sexual harassment, and even assault are considered serious acts of misconduct that could potentially result in the loss of one's license if there is sufficient evidence backing up these claims.
Improper prescribing or dispensing of medications
The prescribing and/or administering of medications is strictly regulated because mistakes can have a direct impact on patient's health and safety. If you're accused of abusing this trust, your license could be in jeopardy. Examples include:
- Prescribing medications with no justifiable medical reason
- Overprescribing certain addictive medications (such as opioids)
- Poor inventory tracking of medications
- Diverting patient medications for personal use or sale on the street
- Dispensing controlled substances without a prescription
Maintaining accurate and up-to-date patient records is a priority for any healthcare provider. If it's found that your record-keeping practices are negligent, incomplete, or inaccurate, this could be seen as a sign of professional neglect, with potentially serious consequences.
Failure to follow treatment recommendations
Examples include failing to comply with a medical professional's orders regarding the care of their patient or not referring a patient to specialist care when their condition indicates it.
As a medical professional, any form of substance abuse can be seen as an infraction that erodes public faith. Substance abuse, such as taking prescription drugs for non-medical reasons, illegal drug consumption, or alcohol abuse, can all have serious consequences like suspension and even revocation of your healthcare license.
Certain criminal convictions can lead to the revocation of your medical license, such as convictions for fraud, convictions related to your profession, or other crimes of moral turpitude.
Professional License Defense for Wilkes-Barre Healthcare Professionals
As a licensed medical professional or other licensed professionals in Pennsylvania, your livelihood hinges on your license. That means that a single allegation of misconduct can derail your entire career unless you are proactive in your response. Engaging a competent and experienced professional license defense attorney early on can help safeguard your career.
The Lento Law Firm can help any of the following medical professionals practicing in Wilkes-Barre, PA:
- Nurse practitioners
- Physician assistants
- Mental health professionals
- Physical therapists
- Other licensed professionals
If you've been notified that your Pennsylvania professional license is under scrutiny over allegations of misconduct, don't take unnecessary risks with your career. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team are committed to exploring all options with you to bring your case to a favorable resolution--one that keeps your career intact. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation.