Being a licensed professional in the State of New York (whether a physician, nurse, dentist, or other professional) is a place of high public trust. The state holds its licensed professionals to high standards of ethical and professional excellence, as well as competence, when performing their various duties. Unfortunately, sometimes licensed professionals can face allegations of misconduct that could jeopardize their ability to maintain their professional license. And since your entire career basically hinges on your license, a single allegation can throw your professional future into doubt. When this happens, it is crucial to have experienced legal representation on your side to help protect your rights and interests.
Professional License Defense Attorney in New York
Any sort of professional code of conduct violation can be a serious problem, whether you're accused of gross negligence, sexual misconduct, fraud, or some other act of wrongdoing. It's important to take action at the first sign of trouble to ensure the best chance of saving your license. The first step in the process is to talk with a skilled professional license defense attorney who can defend you before the disciplinary Board and assist you in navigating the process. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is an experienced New York professional license defense attorney who helped healthcare professionals and other licensed professionals whose licenses are in jeopardy. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
The Disciplinary Process for Licensed Professionals in New York
The State of New York has established a fairly uniform process for receiving and investigating complaints against licensed professionals. If your license is under scrutiny, you can expect the disciplinary process to move through the following stages.
Disciplinary proceedings are almost always initiated by a formal complaint made against you to the state authorities. New York State has a standard procedure for filing such complaints. For physicians, complaints are made to the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OMPC); for all other licensed professionals, complaints are made to the Office of the Professions (OP).
Any member of the public can file a complaint against your license, but the most common complainants include:
- Insurers (in cases of suspected insurance fraud)
- Other practitioners
- Court clerks (i.e., reporting a recent criminal conviction to your licensing board)
Once the appropriate office has received and reviewed the complaint, they will launch an investigation to see if there is enough evidence to support the complaint. The investigation may include interviewing the complainant and any witnesses, reviewing documents, etc. They will also give you an opportunity to respond to the complaint. If insufficient evidence is found to back up the complaint, the OP (or OPMC) may drop the matter at this point. Otherwise, the case moves to the next stage.
As an alternative to holding a formal hearing, the state may try to negotiate a consent order with you, especially if they have sufficient evidence to warrant disciplinary action. A consent order is a legally binding agreement between you and the state in which you admit to wrongdoing and submit to any discipline recommended by the Board. This might include suspension of your license, mandatory classes, treatment for substance abuse (if necessary), and other penalties. Although a consent order is not always the best resolution, it may result in fewer penalties and a way to reinstate your license if negotiated correctly. A good license defense attorney can work to ensure a consent order has the most favorable terms possible.
If no consent order is offered or agreed to, the Board will hold a hearing to review the complaint, determine your guilt or innocence, and decide what disciplinary action(s) to invoke. You may be summoned to show cause why your license should not be suspended or revoked. You may appear with an attorney for this hearing. At the conclusion, the Board will make a final determination as to your guilt or innocence, as well as what disciplinary actions to invoke--up to and including revoking your professional license.
Why You Need an Attorney to Help Protect Your License
Any complaint against your license is effectively a legal matter because your professional license represents your legal right to practice your profession. At the same time, you have no guaranteed presumption of innocence if someone files a complaint against you. The New York Office of the Professions has a duty to protect the public, not its licensees, and they have broad authority to invoke discipline and revoke licenses based on a relatively low burden of proof. This puts you at a disadvantage from the moment you are accused of wrongdoing--and anything you say or do in your defense could possibly be construed as further evidence against you. This is why licensed healthcare professionals and other licensed professionals tend to receive harsher penalties when they try to defend themselves without an attorney.
By contrast, an experienced license defense attorney knows how to navigate the state's disciplinary processes and has likely worked with members of your specific licensing board before. If you involve an attorney as soon as possible, they can help you present your side of the story in a much more organized and powerful way. This makes it more likely that either the board will throw out the complaint entirely or at least be willing to negotiate for lesser penalties.
Specifically, a skilled New York license defense attorney can do the following:
- Review the complaint against you and help you develop a strong defense against it--including gathering evidence, procuring witnesses, etc.
- Act as your official legal representative in all contacts with the Office of the Professions, the OPMC, and/or the Board of Regents.
- Draft a compelling written response to the complaint to improve your chances of having the complaint dismissed.
- Negotiate with the Board at multiple points to have the complaint dismissed or to agree to more lenient penalties.
- Negotiate the most favorable terms possible in a consent order.
- Defend you in a formal hearing, if necessary.
Areas We Serve in New York
The Lento Law Firm can provide professional license defense services to doctors, nurses, dentists, other healthcare professionals, and other licensed workers in virtually every community of New York. However, most of our clients live in the more populated areas and healthcare hubs across the state. We are especially available to provide representation in the following areas.
New York City and Vicinity
Not only is the NYC area the largest metropolitan area in the country (with a combined population exceeding 20 million!), but it is also home to some of the most notable hospitals and health systems in the world, including New York Presbyterian, Mt. Sinai Hospital, NYU Langone, and others. More than 1300 healthcare facilities are within the five boroughs, with hundreds more across the extended region.
Albany and Vicinity
The state capital of New York, Albany is home to just over 100,000 people. It is also home to dozens of healthcare facilities and systems serving the community, including Albany Medical, St. Peter's Hospital, Samaritan Hospital, and Ellis Hospital in nearby Schenectady, NY.
Buffalo is the third largest city in New York, with a population of just over 278,000 people. Its greater metropolitan area has a population of nearly 1.1 million people. Nearby, the city of Niagara Falls is home to just under 50,000, while the Falls themselves see more than 8 million visitors per year. Among the dozens of healthcare facilities in the area are Erie County Medical Center, Elmwood Health Center, Kaleida Health (which operates the John R. Oshei Children's Hospital, and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
The fourth largest city in New York, Rochester has a population of just over 210,000 people. Its metropolitan area is home to nearly 1.1 million people. It is the birthplace of Kodak and Xerox and is also home to the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry, as well as many other healthcare facilities. These include the Rochester Regional Health System (which operates Unity Hospital) and the Finger Lakes Health System.
With a population of over 148,000 people, Syracuse is the fifth-largest city in New York. Its metropolitan area has a population of nearly 660,000 people. It is home to Syracuse University College of Medicine, as well as dozens of healthcare facilities. The main hospitals include Crouse Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center, and Upstate University Hospital.
Offenses or Allegations that Might Jeopardize Your Professional License
Public trust is a key component of health care and other licensed professions. The State of New York enforces high ethical and professional standards for its licensees. Thus, most allegations that could lead to the loss of your professional license involve a violation of either the state's professional standards of practice or of public trust in general. Common accusations that could lead to disciplinary action include, but are not limited to, the following:
Healthcare fraud can be defined as a variety of actions. Some examples include:
- Overbilling patients or insurance
- "Upcoding" services to get higher insurance payouts
- Charging patients or filing insurance claims for services not rendered
- Receiving kickbacks for referrals
- Falsifying patient diagnoses for insurance purposes
- Operating outside of the scope of your license (i.e., performing services that you are not qualified to perform)
- Receiving kickbacks for referrals
Abuse and/or Gross Negligence
This refers to any kind of neglect or abuse that could jeopardize a client's safety, well-being, or health. Examples include:
- Physical abuse (e.g., hitting)
- Emotional abuse (e.g., verbally berating and threatening patients)
- Violating patient/client confidentiality
- Medical errors (e.g., prescription errors, unnecessary procedures)
Sexual Misconduct/Inappropriate Romantic Relationships
It is a major ethics violation for doctors and other health care professionals to have a sexual or romantic relationship with patients they are treating. Other forms of sexual misconduct include making unwanted sexual advances (towards coworkers or patients), sexual harassment, and sexual assault. These behaviors almost always lead to the suspension or revocation of one's license.
Inappropriate Handling of Medications
You could face severe penalties if you are accused of prescribing or dispensing medication in an unprofessional manner or beyond the scope of your license. The same applies to keeping sloppy inventories of medicines or pilfering medications intended for patients for personal use.
Inaccurate Record Keeping
In many professions, from healthcare to engineering, accuracy is a key to public safety. Your license could be at risk if you are accused of keeping incomplete or sloppy records, fabricating data, etc.
If you abuse prescription drugs or use illegal drugs, your professional license could be at stake. Substance abuse can cause impairments to your judgment and compromise your ability to safely serve clients or treat patients safely. Additionally, in the field of medicine, especially, any colleague who suspects you are abusing alcohol or drugs has an ethical duty to notify the OP.
Your license could be at risk if you are convicted for certain crimes, such as DWI, crimes of moral turpitude, or crimes directly related to your profession.
Professional License Defense for Licensed Professionals in New York
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has extensive experience representing the interests of licensed professionals in New York. If you are licensed to practice in any of these roles, The Lento Law Firm can assist you.
- Physician assistant
- Mental health professionals
- Therapist for the body
- Real estate agent
- K-12 educator
- Agent for insurance
- Other licensed professions
It's not an exaggeration to suggest that your career could be over if your license is revoked or suspended. That's why it is crucial to have an attorney on your side who understands the system and will advocate for your rights. By involving an experienced license defense attorney at the first sign of trouble, you greatly increase your chances of getting through the disciplinary process with your license still intact. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is available to assist you at every stage of the license disciplinary process. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation and discuss your case.