A professional license is a badge of honor. It shows your clients, customers, or patients that you have put in the time, money, and resources required by your profession's governing board and that you take your work seriously. A professional license builds trust with the public and respect among your colleagues. It bolsters your career and livelihood.
When someone files a complaint with your board accusing you of professional misconduct, your license is in jeopardy. Depending on the outcome of the board's investigation, you could be fined, required to pay restitution, ordered to undergo more training, or lose your license.
Losing your professional license in West Virginia, whether you are a doctor, nurse, dentist, accountant, electrician, teacher, or another licensed professional, has devastating consequences. You could lose your career, your livelihood, and the respect of clients and colleagues, and face financial hardship. You should take allegations that threaten your license seriously and act immediately upon receiving notice of a complaint. Protect your career and professional reputation by engaging Joseph D. Lento and his experienced Professional License Defense Team to help guide you through this challenge to your personal and professional life.
The Lento Law Firm: Professional License Defense in West Virginia
Several violations of professional code can threaten licensure across all professions in the Mountain State, such as sexual misconduct, negligence, or fraud. Similarly, your license could be at risk of revocation or suspension if a court convicts you of a crime unrelated to your profession, such as driving intoxicated.
Whether you are a pharmacist in one of West Virginia's more than 200 pharmacies or one of the 283,044 teachers working in West Virginia's public school system, if someone accuses you of professional misconduct, it is crucial to speak with an attorney experienced in professional license defense.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team have the experience you need to respond to these allegations. They have helped healthcare professionals, college professors, school teachers, and other licensed professionals like you in West Virginia and across the country defend their professional licenses. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
The Disciplinary Process for Licensed Professionals in West Virginia
Each board oversees the review of any complaints of wrongdoing or misconduct of the professionals it licenses and has the authority to take action if they deem there was a violation of the professional code. Complaints of criminal nature may lead to criminal prosecution.
A board's procedures and guidelines could vary a bit, but each West Virginia board follows the process outlined below:
When someone files a complaint with a professional board, it begins a process that can take weeks to months to reach a conclusion. For example, the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy reviews complaints filed against pharmacists. The West Virginia Board of Medicine oversees the regulation and oversight of healthcare professionals such as medical doctors, podiatric physicians, and physician assistants. And the West Virginia Board of Education works with county school boards and districts to address allegations against licensed or certified teachers.
Anyone can file a complaint against a licensed professional in West Virginia. Common complainants usually fall into one of these categories:
- patients or clients
- other practitioners
- insurers (usually in cases of suspected fraud)
- court clerks (such as in the case of a recent criminal conviction)
Some boards allow complainants to be anonymous.
When a board receives notice of a complaint against one of its licensed professionals, it will first review it to determine whether the accusation is a possible violation of the professional code. They will also check to see whether the accused is under their jurisdiction. If the board determines it should investigate the complaint, it will assign an individual or committee to lead the investigation. The investigator notifies the licensed professional of the complaint against them, usually in writing. Once notified, you may have the opportunity to respond at that time.
The investigation may include a review of your records, interviews with you, and possibly interviews with those familiar with you or the incident. The investigator compiles a report with their findings and recommendations and presents it to the board. The board reviews the report and decides the next steps, which may include closing the complaint, interviewing the complainant, or issuing a subpoena for more supporting documents or records.
Every minute that passes during a professional board's investigation into a complaint against one of its licensed members is one minute of defense strategy lost if the defendant doesn't retain legal representation.
If someone filed a complaint of professional misconduct against you, given the potential risk to your professional license, you should seek legal counsel immediately. Your Lento Law Firm License Defense Lawyers can advise you on how to work with investigators and build a strong defense should the board choose to pursue disciplinary action.
Consent Order and Other Possible Actions
The best-case scenario in any professional license hearing is for the board to close the complaint against you. If the board decides to take disciplinary action, it can come in various forms based on the severity of the accusation. For example, one of the more lenient actions may be to choose a Letter of Concern, sometimes called a Letter of Caution. Boards use these letters to draw the licensee's attention to the specific acts or omissions that prompted the complaint and to notify the licensee that if the acts continue, the professional could face future disciplinary action in the future. While these letters do not represent disciplinary action, they do remain in the professional's licensing file.
If the board decides to pursue disciplinary action, that action will depend on the board and the severity of the accusation. For more serious forms of misconduct, the board may issue a Consent Order that outlines possible disciplinary actions such as admitting liability or guilt, paying fines or restitution to the accuser, mandatory continuing education, or substance abuse treatment. The board could also order suspension, revocation, or annulment of your professional license.
You have the right to negotiate the terms of a Consent Order with the board. If you and the board cannot agree on a proper resolution, you have the right to have a hearing before the board.
Having legal representation when negotiating terms of a Consent Order or defending yourself in a hearing before the board helps ensure you get the best outcome possible. Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team have years of experience defending professionals like you in front of licensing boards. If you're facing accusations of professional misconduct, the Lento Law Firm can advise you every step of the way.
If your Consent Order negotiations fail, the licensing board will hold an administrative hearing, which runs similarly to a court trial. The board will present the evidence against you, and you will have the opportunity to respond to the accusations. The board will use this information to decide on disciplinary action in your case. Disciplinary action may include admitting guilt or liability, paying fines, paying restitution to the named party, or suspension, annulment, or revocation of your professional license.
Why You Need the Lento Law Firm to Help Protect Your License
It can take months for a licensing board to work through its disciplinary action process. It can be stressful and overwhelming, especially if you are fighting this battle alone. An attorney experienced in professional license defense can significantly improve your chances of the best possible outcome. Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team can assist you in many ways during this process, including:
- Review the complaint against you and determine the best strategy for a strong defense, starting with evidence collection, witness procurement, and more.
- Serve as your official legal representative in all interactions with the administrative board reviewing the complaint against you.
- 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 agreement.
- Defend you in a formal hearing before the board, if necessary.
Areas the Lento Law Firm Serves in West Virginia
Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team can provide professional license defense services to doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals, as well as to other licensed workers in Charleston, Huntington, Morgantown, Parkersburg, and every community in West Virginia and across the nation.
Most of our West Virginia clients live in the more densely populated areas and healthcare hubs across the Cornhusker State; we are especially available to provide representation in the following areas:
West Virginia's capital city sits at the junction of the Elk and Kanawha rivers. It's also the state's most populous city, with 46,692 residents calling Charleston home. The city's biggest employers include the Charleston Area Medical Center, Thomas Memorial Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, and the Kanawha County Board of Education. Healthcare is one of the largest occupations among Charleston residents, with more than 3,500 registered nurses, 690 licensed practical nurses, 630 medical assistants, 390 emergency medical technicians and paramedics, and 350 physicians.
Huntington, West Virginia, spread across Cabell and Wayne counties, is the second-largest city in the state, with just over 46,000 residents, many of whom are licensed or certified professionals. Major industries include healthcare and finance, with some of the city's biggest employers including Marshall University, Marshall University School of Medicine, Cabell County Board of Education, and Mountain Health Network, which includes St. Mary's Medical Center, Cabell Huntington Hospital, and Hoops Family Children's Hospital.
West Virginia's third-largest city is Morgantown, with just under 30,000 residents. Its two largest employers are West Virginia University and West Virginia University Hospitals, which employ 7,654 and 6,000 workers, respectively. Other major employers include the Monongalia County Board of Education, University Health Associates, Monongalia General Hospital, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Offenses or Allegations that Might Jeopardize Your Professional License
The general public expects licensing boards to have high ethical and professional standards. When someone accuses a member of violating the professional code, the board must investigate to protect its reputation and its members' reputations.
Some complaints can be serious enough to prompt disciplinary action and possible suspension or revocation of a professional license. Examples of more grievous accusations that could call for disciplinary action include:
Any action, omission, or misrepresentation that knowingly or recklessly misleads or attempts to mislead another person or entity for financial benefit violates the professional code. In the healthcare field, examples of fraud include:
- overbilling of patients or upcoding insurance providers, such as using a code for a more expensive service than the one provided
- billing patients or insurance providers for services not rendered
- collecting kickbacks for referrals
- falsifying patient diagnoses to collect more reimbursement from insurance providers
- offering services outside the scope of your license
Abuse, Gross Negligence
Jeopardizing a patient's safety, health, or well-being violates the professional code. Examples include:
- physical abuse, such as hitting or sexual assault
- emotional abuse, such as threatening or berating a patient
- violating patient confidentiality
- medical errors, including prescription errors
Sexual Misconduct/Inappropriate Relationships
It is a serious ethical violation when a healthcare professional enters into a sexual or romantic relationship with a patient. Other forms of sexual misconduct include unwanted sexual advances toward patients or coworkers, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.
Inappropriate Handling of Medications
West Virginia had one of the highest opioid overdose death rates in the country due in large part to inappropriate handling of medications by doctors and pharmacists. Healthcare providers can be severely penalized and risk losing their license if the administrative board finds they are guilty of prescribing or dispensing medications irresponsibly or outside the scope of their license. Other infractions include incorrect tracking of medications or stealing prescription drugs for personal use.
Inaccurate Record Keeping
Keeping accurate and thorough records is essential to conscientious, ethical patient care. Healthcare workers can risk losing their licenses if they maintain sloppy or incomplete patient records or falsify documents.
Abusing substances on the job can impair judgment and hamper a professional's ability to do their job properly and safely. If you are found guilty of abusing drugs or alcohol, you may lose your professional license.
If the court convicts you of a crime, the clerk will likely inform your administrative board. Your license could be at risk if your conviction is for driving while intoxicated, crimes of moral turpitude, or crimes related to your profession.
The Lento Law Firm: Professional License Defense for Licensed Professionals in West Virginia
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team represent the interests of licensed professionals in West Virginia and across the country. If you are licensed to practice in any of these roles, The Lento Law Firm can assist you in your defense.
- physician assistant
- mental health professional
- physical therapist
- real estate agent
- K-12 educator
- insurance agent
- other licensed professions
Allegations of professional misconduct can quickly evolve into a potentially devastating threat to your professional license. Your career and professional reputation are at risk. It is critical to retain an attorney with experience in professional license defense who can help you make the best choices as you move through the board's disciplinary process.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team can help build your defense and provide the legal representation you need. Call 888-535-3686 or contact us online to schedule a review of your case and start the process of protecting your professional license and restoring your good name.