You've put a great deal of effort into building a career as a licensed physician, nurse, dentist, physician assistant, or other healthcare professional in York, PA. You have also worked hard to build a solid reputation as someone. Your patients and colleagues can trust. That's why it can be so devastating to learn that someone has filed a complaint against you alleging wrongdoing, and now your professional license is in question.
While complaints against medical professionals are certainly common enough, it's hard not to take it personally if it happens to you. After all, your livelihood hinges on your license. All it may take is a single allegation of misconduct to trigger an investigation by your state licensing board--which in turn can lead to disciplinary action, up to and including the revocation of your license. No license--no career.
Professional License Defense Attorney in York, PA
Thankfully, an allegation of wrongdoing doesn't have to end your career, especially with the help of an experienced Pennsylvania license defense attorney. The Lento Law Firm understands the seriousness of these types of professional license defense cases and provides knowledgeable and effective counsel to help you protect your career.
With a long history of successful outcomes for clients in York, PA, and beyond, attorney Joseph Lento and his license defense team understand what's at stake for you. They know how the disciplinary process works in Pennsylvania, and they will work to get you the best possible resolution for your case. To schedule a consultation, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.
What Is the Disciplinary Process for Health Professionals in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, the same licensing board that issued your license will also oversee any disciplinary actions taken against that license. For doctors, it's the State Board of Medicine; for nurses, it's the Board of Nursing, and so on. Otherwise, the state has a fairly uniform procedure for investigating and disciplining its licensed professionals, which moves through a set of stages as follows.
Most disciplinary proceedings against licensed professionals begin when someone files a formal complaint. Any member of the public can file a complaint against a licensed professional via the In Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA). Most complaints against healthcare professionals are initiated by:
- Other practitioners/colleagues
- Work colleagues
- Healthcare facilities
- Insurers (in cases of suspected fraud)
Disciplinary action can also be initiated if you are convicted of a criminal offense, and the courts send a notification to your licensing board. In cases of serious crimes or crimes directly related to your profession, your licensing board may even temporarily suspend your license while they investigate the matter.
Once the BPOA is alerted of a complaint, an investigator from the Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI) will be assigned to conduct an extensive investigation to see if there is evidence to substantiate the complaint. This may include speaking to the complainant and any relevant witnesses, as well as obtaining subpoenas for evidence. You may also be asked to give your official response in writing. If an investigator contacts or visits you unannounced, it's best that you do not respond to any queries without a lawyer by your side as your answers could actually be used as evidence against you in your case.
Should the investigation discover inadequate evidence to back up an accusation, then it's likely that the licensing board will choose not to take any further action. Nevertheless, if there is sufficient evidence found, they will move forward with the next steps.
Rather than taking a case to formal disciplinary action, your licensing board may offer you the opportunity to enter into a consent agreement. This is effectively an agreement between you and the state in which you agree to accept certain disciplinary actions in exchange for not having a formal hearing. While this option may present an easier resolution, it's not always the best choice because it effectively bypasses your ability to present a defense, and any disciplinary action will also become a matter of public record, damaging your reputation. That said, if disciplinary action is likely, your attorney may recommend a consent agreement as a viable solution because they may have opportunities to negotiate for lenient terms--including keeping your license or at least allowing provisions for reinstatement.
Formal Administrative Hearing
If you don't accept the consent agreement (or if one isn't offered), then your case will proceed to an administrative hearing in front of a state examiner. This is where all the evidence and witness testimony presented at the investigation stage will be formally reviewed by the licensing board in order to determine whether you have violated the regulations of your profession. During this process, your license defense attorney will be able to present a legal defense and cross-examine witnesses as needed. When the hearing ends, the examiner will give their final recommendations to the licensing board concerning your discipline, which could range from a formal reprimand and probationary measures to full revocation of your license.
How an Experienced Professional License Defense Attorney Can Help
Licensed healthcare professionals commonly underestimate the seriousness of their predicament when confronted with allegations of misconduct. They often assume that explaining themselves to the board will suffice, but this is an inaccurate assumption. Public safety always takes precedence for state licensing boards – even if it means revoking a licensee's privileges. Thus, you cannot expect a presumption of innocence in such scenarios. Bear in mind that your licensing board has been given broad authority to impose discipline on you or revoke your license, and they can find you guilty based on a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, you're on the defensive from the moment a complaint is filed, and the burden of proof is on you to show why you deserve to keep your license.
Having an experienced York, PA, professional license defense attorney on your side can make a huge difference in helping you to protect your license and livelihood. Your lawyer will be able to provide legal advice, formulate the best strategy for defending yourself against the complaint, interview witnesses, and gather evidence to form a strong case in your favor. They'll also be able to negotiate with your licensing board on your behalf, and they can even help you prepare an appeal should the need arise. Furthermore, they're legally bound to protect your interests at all times and will provide objective advice throughout the entire process. In many cases, a good attorney can negotiate a fair resolution before the matter even moves into a formal hearing.
With the right attorney, you are far more likely to keep your license or receive reduced sanctions compared to if you were without legal counsel.
The Lento Law Firm has a track record of successfully protecting and supporting professionals who are facing disciplinary action. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team can help in the following ways:
- Legally and officially represent you in all interactions with the board.
- Gather evidence and testimonies to authenticate your side of the story.
- Compose a persuasive and influential written response to the complaint (which often results in having the complaint dismissed).
- Negotiate with the board at multiple points for a dismissal of the complaint or for lenient terms of discipline.
- If necessary, defend you at a formal hearing.
Healthcare Institutions in York, PA
Situated in south-central Pennsylvania, the historic City of York is home to about 45,000, but the outlying metropolitan areas of York County and beyond include a population of nearly a quarter of a million people. Numerous healthcare facilities dot this area (including hospitals, urgent care, specialized care, and primary care facilities) to serve the needs of this population. These facilities hold their employees to high standards of excellence, which means an investigation against your license could potentially put your job at risk with these facilities, also.
Healthcare organizations serving the York, Pennsylvania area include, but are not limited to:
Overseeing a network of 20,000 healthcare employees in eight hospitals and hundreds of smaller facilities across southern PA and Maryland, WellSpan is one of the region's most noted healthcare organizations. WellSpan operates numerous facilities in York, including the city's largest hospital, the 593-bed WellSpan York Hospital.
A mainstay in Pennsylvania for more than 130 years, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is a preeminent healthcare provider and insurer, overseeing a massive network of healthcare facilities, including 40 hospitals regionally. UPMC operates several inpatient and outpatient facilities in the York area, including the recently opened UPMC Memorial Hospital on Innovation Drive.
What Allegations Could Endanger Your Professional License?
The licensing boards of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are devoted to upholding high ethical and professional standards for their licensees. If you're being investigated as a doctor, nurse, dentist, or another healthcare professional, it's likely because you have been accused of violating one or more of these standards and/or breaching public trust. Some of the more common violations are below.
Gross neglect or abuse
Neglect is any action or inaction that puts a patient's health, safety, and well-being at risk. This could take the form of physical abuse, verbal/emotional mistreatment, medical negligence such as misdiagnosis or unauthorized use of medications/dosage administration, not adhering to HIPAA regulations regarding confidentiality, or performing unnecessary procedures (or doing so in an unsafe manner).
Healthcare professionals have a moral obligation to uphold the highest standards of care, which includes refraining from engaging in any form of romantic or sexual relations with those they are entrusted to treat. Likewise, allegations of unwelcome advances towards patients/peers, lewd behavior, or sexual assault/harassment could lead to the loss of one's professional license.
Fraud comes in many forms, from billing for services that weren't provided to overcharging patients or insurance companies to misrepresenting your credentials. Other examples include altering patient records, taking kickbacks for referrals, or offering treatments outside of the professional scope of your license.
Improper prescribing or dispensing of medications
Prescribing medication is a complex process that requires close attention to patient history and condition, dosage levels, drug interactions, etc. Any violations of guidelines in this area can lead to serious consequences for healthcare professionals. Examples include:
- Prescribing medications without a justifiable medical reason
- Prescribing suspicious amounts of addictive medications (such as opioids)
- Sloppy inventory tracking of medications
- Dispensing controlled substances without a prescription
- Pilfering medications for personal use
Healthcare providers are required to document every aspect of their work with accuracy and detail, including patient histories/diagnoses, treatment plans, follow-up visits, and more. Any indications that a provider has been less than honest in keeping records can lead to disciplinary action.
Failure to follow treatment recommendations
If a doctor gives you specific instructions regarding the care of their patient, you can face disciplinary action if you fail to follow those instructions. Likewise, failing to offer a patient the recommended indicated treatments, or failing to refer them for specialized care when needed, can result in loss of license.
As a healthcare professional, any type of drug or alcohol misuse can be viewed as an unethical act that shakes the trust of the public. Ingesting drugs illicitly, abusing legal prescriptions for non-medical purposes, and excessive alcohol consumption can have serious repercussions like loss of license or suspension from practice.
Certain criminal convictions can disqualify you from holding a professional license, including convictions for fraud, convictions related to your profession, or other crimes of moral turpitude.
Professional License Defense for York Healthcare Professionals
If you're a healthcare professional facing license disciplinary action, it's important to seek the help of an experienced legal team at the first sign of trouble to ensure the best possible outcome. The Lento Law Firm offers comprehensive license defense for doctors, nurses, dentists, and other medical professionals in York, PA. With many years of experience in disciplinary cases, Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his tea understand what the licensing boards are looking for and how to help safeguard your career.
The Lento Law Firm can help any of the following medical professionals practicing in York, PA:
- Nurse practitioners
- Physician assistants
- Mental health professionals
- Physical therapists
- Other licensed professionals
Whether your disciplinary issue stems from a simple misunderstanding, misstep, or lapse in judgment, you've worked too hard to build your career to have it derailed by a complaint. Let the Lento Law Firm give you the proper legal representation you deserve. Contact them today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation.