The Lento Law Firm Can Help If Your Iowa Physician's License Is in Danger
As an Iowa-licensed physician, you have invested a great deal of time, money, and effort to get where you are today--from undergoing eight years of grueling education to sitting for the USMLE, not to mention all the clinical experience you've gone through. That's why receiving any notification from the Iowa Board of Medicine about possible disciplinary action could have you worried about potential implications. It can be unsettling to discover that the Board is investigating you for alleged misconduct, leaving you unsure where to seek assistance.
It's right for you to be concerned. The State of Iowa holds its licensed physicians to very high standards of ethics and professionalism, and the Board of Medicine has an obligation to protect the public. A career in medicine is one of great public trust, and any implication that this trust has been violated could result in disciplinary action against you--up to and including revoking your license to practice. Remarkably, after all your hard work, all it may take is a single complaint to derail all you've worked for.
Given what's at stake, it's crucial not to entrust such a critical matter to an inexperienced lawyer. You need a seasoned professional license defense attorney to guide you through this process--someone with extensive experience defending licensed physicians against disciplinary proceedings. With this kind of legal support, your chances are much greater of emerging unscathed from the investigation against you.
The Professional License Defense Team at Lento Law Firm is your most reliable option when your Iowa physician's license is in jeopardy. We will assess your case, advise on your options, negotiate for leniency with the Board, and fight for you to secure the best possible outcome. Contact 888-535-3686 now to engage experienced legal representation and the finest Professional License Defense Team in Iowa, increasing your chances of successful results.
How Iowa Licensed Physicians are Regulated
The regulation and licensing of physicians in Iowa are overseen by the Iowa Board of Medicine, which as of July 2023, has been placed under the larger administrative umbrella of the Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals & Licensing (DIAL). The Board administers licensing and enforcement for MDs, DOs, licensed acupuncturists, and genetic counselors across the state. The Board is also responsible for setting the standards of medical practice within the state and ensuring that these standards are upheld by all licensed practitioners.
The practice of medicine in Iowa is governed by laws and regulations collectively referred to as the Medical Practice Act. This act discusses the rules and guidelines that physicians must follow in their practice, as well as authorized disciplinary actions for violations. The act is enforced by the Iowa Board of Medicine, which has the power to issue licenses to practice medicine in the state, consistent with the act and all applicable laws.
The regulatory structure in Iowa allows for interstate medical licensure, making Iowa a member state with the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. This facilitates the practice of medicine across state lines within a framework that ensures adherence to the relevant medical practice acts of each member state.
Common Allegations that Can Endanger a Physician's License
Licensed physicians in Iowa can face the risk of losing their medical license over a variety of issues and offenses based on either violations of the Medical Practice Act, violations of Board rules, or general breaches of the public trust. The most common accusations leading to license loss include:
- Fraud. Examples of medical fraud include "upcoding" insurance claims for monetary gain, overbilling, false patient diagnoses for insurance purposes, billing for non-performed services, and accepting referral kickbacks.
- Poor record-keeping. Maintaining accurate patient medical records is vital for safe healthcare. Inaccurate or deliberately altered medical records can land physicians in significant trouble.
- Substance abuse/addiction. Alcohol and/or drug abuse by physicians casts doubt on their ability to exercise sound judgment regarding patients--especially if you're reported as being under the influence while on duty.
- Prescribing mismanagement. Unlawful prescribing practices such as failing to properly monitor medications, overprescribing certain medications like opioids, or providing prescriptions without proper medical evaluation can result in disciplinary action by the Board.
- Sexual misconduct. This includes making unwanted sexual advances toward patients or colleagues, sexual harassment, etc. Additionally, forming a romantic relationship with a patient you are treating is a major ethical violation and can result in loss of license.
- Patient abuse or neglect. Allegations of physical, sexual, mental, or verbal abuse can endanger a physician's license, as well as taking any action or inaction that puts a patient at unnecessary risk.
- Criminal convictions. Certain criminal offenses can disqualify you from holding a physician's license. Likewise, failure to self-report any conviction to the Board can result in disciplinary action, even if the offense itself would not have jeopardized your license.
Does Every Violation Result in Losing One's License?
No, not necessarily. The Board takes into account many factors when deciding on disciplinary actions, and many such actions may allow you to keep your physician's license. These may include:
- License suspension: temporarily prohibiting you from practicing as a physician.
- Practice restrictions: limiting your scope of work or barring you from certain tasks.
- Fines: The Board can fine you up to $10,000.
- Probation and monitoring: The Board may require close supervision of your practice.
- Formal citation and warning: For minor offenses, the Board might issue a formal reprimand, which shows up on your record but with no license restrictions.
Remember, even without having your medical license revoked, these lesser penalties can still negatively affect your career because they become a matter of public record—accessible to prospective patients, employers, healthcare facilities, and licensing boards in other states. These penalties could potentially impact people's decisions to work with you, as well as limiting your career opportunities. The Professional License Team of the Lento Law Firm can often get involved at the early stages of your investigation to minimize these risks and potentially keep sanctions off your record.
Complications with Licensure in Multiple States
Iowa is one of 39 states that participate in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, a voluntary agreement among participating states and territories to streamline medical licensure in multiple states. At this time, there is no "multistate license" offered by the compact (all states issue their own licenses), but rather, it provides a pathway for one application to be used for licensure in any other participating states where the physician wishes to practice.
While the compact provides a relatively simple way to extend healthcare into underserved regions (and gives physicians more flexibility with their practices), it can also create more difficulties for physicians who are accused of misconduct. If the Iowa Board of Medicine enforces disciplinary action against your Iowa license, it can easily impact your licensure in other states--and vice versa.
When facing the potential for disciplinary action in a multistate situation, it's to your advantage to hire a professional license defense law firm with a nationwide reach. The Lento Law Firm helps licensed physicians all across the country who are facing disciplinary actions. Our Team can help you navigate the complexities and regulatory processes not just in Iowa, but in any state where you're licensed to practice.
Areas We Serve in Iowa
Iowa is home to more than 3 million people, affording physicians many opportunities to provide much-needed care to patients. We serve doctors who are employed at many of the largest healthcare systems in Iowa, which include, but are not limited to:
We can help licensed physicians practicing anywhere in the state, but understandably many of our clients practice in the following more populated cities and metropolitan areas of Iowa.
Des Moines is Iowa's state capital and largest city, hosting a population of about 211,000 people. The city is known for its bustling mix of historical culture, vibrant nightlife, and agricultural influence. Nestled along the Des Moines River, it provides a dynamic blend of metropolitan sophistication and Midwestern hospitality. Home to the renowned Iowa State Fair, Des Moines offers a plethora of cultural attractions, such as the Des Moines Art Center, the State Historical Museum of Iowa, and the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Primary health systems serving Des Moines include UnityPoint and MercyOne.
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City
Cedar Rapids, situated in Eastern Iowa, is the second-largest city in the state (home to 130,000) and is known as the "City of Five Seasons." (The fifth season is time itself, encouraging residents to pause and enjoy the other four.) The city boasts a rich history, prominently displayed at attractions such as the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and Brucemore, a 26-acre historic estate. As an economic powerhouse in the region, it leads in the industries of manufacturing, processing, and telecommunications. Just south of Cedar Rapids is Iowa City, a college town of 75,000 serving as home to the University of Iowa. Healthcare systems and facilities in this region include Mercy Cedar Rapids, Eastern Iowa Health Center, and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
Iowa's third-largest city, Davenport, is a thriving Mississippi River community with an estimated population of 101,000. It boasts one of the world's premiere collections of modern art housed at the Figge Art Museum and a vibrant live music scene fueled by the numerous jazz clubs in the area. Combined with neighboring Bettendorf, Rock Island, and Moline, IL, just across the river, the "Quad Cities" offer a wealth of cultural attractions, shopping, and dining opportunities. Primary healthcare systems in this area include UnityPoint and Genesis Health.
Just on the border of Nebraska and South Dakota, Sioux City is a bustling city of 86,000 people along the Missouri River. It is home to numerous national historic landmarks and cultural attractions, including the Sioux City Public Museum, Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center, and Betty Strong Encounter Center. The largest healthcare system in this region is UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's, which serves patients in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Additionally, Sioux Center Health offers a variety of medical services across the region.
The Physician License Disciplinary Procedure in Iowa
The Iowa Medical Board has a specific procedure in place to ensure adherence to medical practice standards and to initiate disciplinary actions when necessary. If you're a physician practicing in Iowa and you've been accused of professional misconduct, you'll likely experience the following stages of the process.
The disciplinary process is typically initiated when someone files a formal complaint against you with the Board. Any member of the public can file a complaint, but for physicians, the most common complainants include patients, their family members, colleagues, other practitioners, insurance companies, etc.
Once the Board receives a complaint and verifies that it's within its purview, it commences an official investigation to see if the complaint can be corroborated with evidence. This phase could span several months and may require additional information from you, documents from the complainant, site visits, interviews, and so forth. The investigator reports their findings back to the Board. If the investigation yields insufficient evidence to proceed, or if the Board perceives the offense as minor, the Board may dismiss the case at this point. (The Lento Law Firm Team can often negotiate for early dismissal with no further action at this stage of the process.)
Statement of Charges
If the investigation shows probable cause that you violated the law or Board rules, the Board will issue a public statement of charges stating legal action is being initiated against you. You'll also be given notice that you are being given an opportunity for due process and that you are being summoned to a hearing. The matter is referred to the Office of the Attorney General to prosecute the case.
Before a formal hearing occurs, you will be invited to negotiate with the Board informally to voluntarily agree on resolving the complaint, including any disciplinary actions. Having an attorney can be very beneficial at this stage to negotiate for the most favorable possible terms. A mutual settlement will resolve the matter and avoid the hearing.
If no settlement is reached, the matter will then proceed to a formal hearing, where you will present your defense and show cause why your physician's license should not be revoked. The hearing takes place before members of the Board of Medicine and is presided over by an Administrative Law Judge appointed by DIAL. It's highly recommended that you have legal representation for the hearing.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board issues a final Decision and Order regarding your license, including any disciplinary actions. These actions can range from a formal Citation all the way to full revocation of your license to practice. The decision is made public and is posted on the Board's website and shared on the National Practitioner Data Bank, which is visible to entities across other states.
You are entitled to appeal any unfavorable decision to the courts within 30 days. The court will generally only uphold an appeal if there are procedural errors or mistakes of fact that denied you due process. After the appeal, the decision is final.
It's important to remember that at any point in this process, the Board has the authority to resolve or dismiss the complaint against you. The License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can employ skillful negotiations throughout the process and often helps clients resolve complaints before they reach the hearing or disposition state.
The Crucial Role of Legal Counsel in Protecting Your Medical License
You have the right to represent yourself in license disciplinary proceedings, but for most physicians, it's not recommended. The primary objective of the Board is to regulate your conduct and safeguard public health, meaning that the Board doesn't necessarily operate in your best interest when a complaint is lodged against you. Iowa laws afford you due process, but the Board can still rule against you based only on the preponderance of the evidence. You're not guaranteed a presumption of innocence, nor does the Board have to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Securing legal representation becomes indispensable when your medical license is at risk for several key reasons:
- The Board of Medicine boasts a more comprehensive knowledge of the disciplinary procedure than you likely do. This disparity leaves you at a disadvantage unless you have an informed attorney to steer you.
- The threat to your medical license is essentially a legal issue. Your license represents a legal contract with the state, and any purported misconduct translates into a legal violation under the Medical Practice Act. It's logical to seek legal counsel when dealing with legal matters.
Choosing the Right Attorney to Defend Your Medical License
While every attorney who has passed the Bar exam is legally authorized to represent you, it doesn't necessarily mean they are suited to assist you when your license is under siege. For example, a divorce attorney, despite being legally competent, may not possess the requisite expertise in Administrative Law, leaving them as ill-equipped as you are during the disciplinary process. Therefore, for optimal results, it's recommended to hire an attorney with specific experience in professional licensure defense. Such a lawyer will have an extensive understanding of licensing boards, their protocols, and the nuances of administrative hearings.
How We Can Help
Engaging a seasoned medical license defense attorney can significantly boost your odds of retaining your medical license and reducing or avoiding any penalties. The Lento Law Firm Team will evaluate the facts and evidence, evaluate the strength of the complaint against you, aid in procuring evidence and securing witnesses if needed, and negotiate for the most favorable resolution terms with the Board, potentially bypassing a hearing entirely. Furthermore, they will fervently advocate for your interests if the matter progresses to a formal hearing.
The Lento Law Firm: Your Ally When Your Iowa Medical License Is in Danger
If you're an Iowa physician dealing with allegations of professional misconduct, engaging a professional license attorney at the earliest stage of the process can significantly improve your prospects of a positive outcome. Some physicians postpone securing legal representation until a formal hearing is imminent, not realizing that they might have already jeopardized their chances for a less severe resolution. The sooner you involve an attorney, the greater your opportunities to negotiate a more beneficial resolution, potentially even bypassing a formal hearing entirely.
The implications are profound when your medical license is under scrutiny due to a formal complaint or alleged misconduct. Your entire professional career and means of livelihood are at stake. Every step you take in this process without legal counsel essentially amounts to a perilous wager on your future. Conversely, the sooner you engage the Lento Law Firm to help you, the better your odds of preserving your livelihood and career.
The Lento Law Firm Team brings to the table many years of experience in handling professional license defense cases nationwide. Don't take unnecessary risks with your career. To discuss your case and evaluate your options, contact Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or reach out via our online form.