Earning your professional license is undoubtedly a source of pride and a means of financial stability for both you and your loved ones. For many years of your life and thousands have dollars in education or training have been sacrificed to obtain your licensure. Whether you are a physician, nurse, dentist, teacher, electrician, or pest control worker, you worked hard to meet the licensure requirements of your profession. Therefore, any allegation that threatens your licensure must be addressed immediately and competently to preserve your career, livelihood, and reputation. To protect your licensure, career, and reputation, secure Joseph D. Lento and his experienced Professional License Defense Team to guide you in resolving this allegation.
The Lento Law Firm: Professional License Defense in Hawaii
There are a variety of professional licensure code violations; some are industry specific, such as breaching patient confidentiality, mishandling medications, or medical insurance fraud in the medical field. Many complaints are often more general, such as sexual misconduct or substance abuse. Even events that occur outside of the workplace, like driving while intoxicated, can result in real and serious threats to your licensure. If you think there is any chance a misconduct allegation may be brought against you presently or in the future, it is important to get ahead of the issue and speak with a skilled Professional License Defense Attorney.
Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team are well-versed in responding to allegations of professional misconduct. The Professional License Defense Team has assisted healthcare professionals and other licensed professionals nationwide in defending themselves against career-threatening misconduct allegations. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888.535.3686 or online to discuss your case.
The Disciplinary Process for Licensed Professionals in Hawaii
Disciplinary proceedings often begin with a formal complaint to the relevant state licensure board. Hawaii has 25 separate licensure boards and commissions. The board or commission which issued your license will have jurisdiction over the adjudication of the accusation against you.
Some licensure boards cover numerous licenses in the field, while others are more focused. In Hawaii, complaints against physicians, EMTs, physician assistants, and podiatrists are all directed to the Hawaii Medical Board. The state also has individual licensure boards for other healthcare professionals, such as nurses, optometrists, dentists, psychologists, chiropractors, dentists and dental hygienists, speech pathologists, physical therapists, and more. Other licensing boards in Hawaii include the Board of Electricians and Plumbers, the Board of Professional Engineers, Architects, Surveyors & Landscape Architects, and the Pest Control Board.
The board that issued your professional license will have jurisdiction over adjudicating any misconduct accusations. While procedures may vary slightly, you can anticipate the process to go as follows:
Complaints can be filed by anyone and can be filed anonymously. Most often, complaints are filed by coworkers, patients or clients, insurers, or other practitioners.
Licensing boards will conduct an initial review of the complaint. At this stage, boards may be able to weed out an illegitimate complaint or a complaint that falls without the bounds of its jurisdiction.
If the board determines that a complaint is within its scope and could have merit, it will begin an investigation to determine whether misconduct has genuinely occurred and, if so, to what extent. You should be notified in writing when a formal investigation has been opened against you.
Investigations may include but are not limited to the board subpoenaing documents, questioning witnesses, and requesting you provide a written response to the allegation. The board could also request an information meeting to ask you additional questions. Therefore, it is crucial that you only respond to the complaint or engage with the licensure board after consulting Joseph D. Lento and his experienced Professional License Defense Team immediately. With your licensure and career on the line, you cannot afford to delay or improperly respond to an allegation of misconduct.
The board may negotiate a consent agreement if an investigation results in sufficient evidence supporting the complaint. Also called a consent order, the consent agreement is a legally binding document between you and the licensing board that stipulates the terms, conditions, and potential penalties you are bound by to keep your license.
For example, you may be required to complete a substance abuse or anger management course. Accepting a consent agreement is voluntary and prevents further action from the board, permitting you to adhere to the consent agreement's terms fully. Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team are equipped to advise you through negotiating a consent agreement with the licensing board.
If the board did not offer a consent agreement based on the nature of the allegations or you could not negotiate a consent agreement that you were comfortable with, the board will call for a formal hearing. At the hearing, the licensing board will present the case against you; you will then be entitled to defend your case and explain why you do not believe your license should face restrictions, suspension, or revocation. Formal hearings are important legal hearings, just like a court case; you should only attend a hearing with legal representation.
The board will then make a formal and final determination on your case. Often, complaints do not result in loss of license. Weighing the severity of the offense, evidence, and circumstances, the licensing board has a variety of options for disciplinary action, including:
- Reprimand without penalty
- Imposing conditions to keep your license active
- License restrictions
- Loss of license
If you believe the board has made a serious procedural error that affected the outcome of your case, acted inappropriately, or penalized you without sufficient evidence, you are entitled to an appeal. In Hawaii, appeals must be filed in the appropriate Circuit Court within 30 days of the licensing board's determination.
Why You Need the Lento Law Firm to Help Protect Your License
All license discipline charges are different. You deserve an experienced national license defense attorney who will learn your unique case and curate an aggressive defense plan to protect your professional license best.
Offenses or Allegations That Might Jeopardize Your Professional License
Many types of misconduct allegations can threaten your professional license. While allegations may vary drastically in scope and severity, the consequences to your reputation after facing any of these allegations are incredibly serious.
Fraudulent practices are actions a licensed professional takes that violate their professional standards. When obtaining a professional license, you are often committed to ensuring you meet strict and particular standards of education, training, business etiquette (for example, advertising and how you represent yourself to potential clients and customers), and ethics.
In the healthcare field, one common fraudulent practice is insurance fraud. This can include upcoding insurance providers (i.e., the practice of billing for a more expensive service than the one rendered to the patient), intentionally incorrectly listing a patient's diagnosis to collect higher reimbursement, or billing insurance for services not rendered. Other common types of fraudulent practices in healthcare include intentionally incorrectly billing patients directly and collecting referral payments.
Any type of licensed professional can commit fraudulent practices. For example, a real estate agent could materially misrepresent the condition of a property or fail to disclose crucial information to potential buyers. A certified public accountant ("CPA") could engage in fraudulent practices by falsifying financial documents or misrepresenting information to their clients.
Gross negligence or abuse is an extremely serious allegation. Gross negligence allegations are often seen in healthcare, although other licensed professionals can also face this allegation. In healthcare, gross negligence allegations can include causing serious harm or death to the patient from the following:
- Misdiagnosis resulting in inappropriate medical treatment or lack of treatment
- Medication errors, such as incorrectly dosing or administering the wrong medication
- Surgical or medical procedure errors
- Inadequate care
- Emotional abuse
- Physical abuse
Sexual misconduct allegations can occur in any workplace. These allegations included unwanted sexual advances, sexual harassment, or sexual assault toward a patient, client, customer, or coworker.
While colleague and customer or client relationships are generally discouraged, certain licensed professions have particularly strict rules prohibiting any sexual relationship. For example, healthcare professionals and attorneys face strict prohibitions on sleeping with patients or clients and face serious consequences and even loss of licensure. In Hawaii, the law states that healthcare professionals are not allowed to have sexual relationships with any current or former patient, regardless of if any relationship started after the course of the professional relationship ended.
Errors in Record Keeping
Record keeping is essential and fairly regulated in the healthcare field. Frequently, there are strict rules on what information must be maintained and for how long, which must remain confidential to protect patient privacy. Although errors in record keeping may seem insignificant, they are not, and they can threaten your professional license just the same. A few record-keeping errors that can threaten your licensure include:
- Failure to properly document patient care, including all medical professional assessments, diagnoses, treatments, and medications
- Failure to protect patient privacy and keep patient information confidential
- Altering or falsifying medical records
Substance abuse allegations are severe and extremely common. An investigation into disciplinary actions brought to the Texas Board of Nursing revealed that about one-third of all disciplinary actions against its nurses were drug or alcohol related. Healthcare providers, in particular, are at higher risk for substance abuse, with studies showing that 10% to 15% of healthcare providers will misuse substances in their lifetimes. Prescription drug abuse and addiction are five times higher in the physician population than in the general population. Substance abuse can severely impact your judgment and ability as a healthcare professional to meet the necessary standard of care to keep your patients safe.
While substance abuse is more prevalent amongst healthcare professionals, anyone can suffer from substance abuse issues. Regardless of your profession, you don't deserve to lose your license, career, and reputation based on this illness. You need the assistance of attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team, who have extensive experience helping those dealing with substance abuse issues fight for their professional licenses.
Criminal convictions can have a serious impact on your licensure. In fact, for some licenses, a criminal conviction alone is enough to have your license revoked. In Hawaii, a conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude or drug-related offenses can result in an automatic suspect or revocation of your license. Crimes of moral turpitude tend to be crimes involving fraud or deceit or immoral or depraved acts (i.e., theft, identity theft, assault with a deadly weapon, sexual crimes, domestic violence, and child abuse).
In Hawaii, healthcare professionals are required to report to the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs any disciplinary actions by other licensing boards or professional organizations or criminal convictions to their respective licensing board within 30 days of the occurrence. Failure to report can result in revocation of their license.
The Lento Law Firm: Professional License Defense for Licensed Professionals in Hawaii
Allegations that threaten to devastate your career, your reputation, your livelihood, and your financial stability can be terrifying. It is critical to obtain assistance from an attorney experienced in the nuances of procedures to navigate the best response to these allegations.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team can zealously advocate for you throughout this challenging process. Call 888.535.3686 or contact us online to schedule a review of your case and start the journey to restoring your career, reputation, and peace of mind.