You've worked long and hard to become a licensed chiropractor and to establish a professional reputation, a practice, and professional relationships with your patients and colleagues. That's why hearing that someone has lodged a complaint against you with your state chiropractic board can be a gut punch. A complaint about your professionalism, abilities, or ethics can damage your professional reputation, even if it stems from a misunderstanding. In more serious cases, a complaint can risk your entire career.
Your state chiropractic board has responsibility for the education, training, and licensing of all practicing chiropractors. As part of this responsibility, the board also establishes a professional code of conduct and ethics for all chiropractors and investigates complaints that a chiropractor has violated those standards. While you have a duty to cooperate with any investigation, you should still consult attorney Joseph D. Lento and the skilled Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm. They can help nationwide.
Common Triggers for Chiropractic Board Investigations
Allegations of misconduct can come to the chiropractic board from your patients, colleagues, doctors, employees, co-workers, clinics, or hospitals. Some of the most common complaints that can lead to a board investigation or disciplinary action include:
- Fraud or theft, including insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare fraud, upcoding, billing for procedures not performed, and overbilling,
- Patient abuse or neglect, including verbal, physical, or sexual abuse,
- Sexual abuse or harassment,
- Acting outside the scope of your license or allowing others in your office to perform procedures or care for which they are not licensed,
- An arrest or criminal conviction, especially if it involved a drug or alcohol offense,
- Substance abuse or alcohol abuse,
- Failing to keep adequate and accurate patient or financial records.
Chiropractic Board Investigations and the Disciplinary Process
While each state chiropractic board establishes its own rules and procedures for the disciplinary process, most follow the same basic pattern involving a complaint, investigation, inquiry, consent decree, formal hearing, and appeal. However, you should understand that the board will not use the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard for the allegations against you. Rather, they will use "clear and convincing evidence," meaning it is highly probable the allegations are true. This is a lower standard of proof.
- Complaint: The process begins with someone complaining to your state chiropractic board, alleging that you violated your professional standards or ethics. The board will first look at the allegations in the complaint to determine whether, if true, they are a violation of your professional standards or responsibilities.
- Investigation: If the board proceeds, they may inform you of the complaint in writing and ask for additional information from you in writing and additional documents. If they find the allegations in the complaint are without merit, they can dismiss them at any point in the investigation.
- Inquiry: If your response to the investigation doesn't clear up the matter or provide enough information, the chiropractic board may ask you to attend an informal hearing or inquiry to ask you more questions.
- Consent Decree: If the board believes the allegations are true and necessitate disciplinary action, they may first attempt to negotiate a consent decree with you and your attorney. Sometimes, it may be advantageous to accept a consent decree and resolve the matter quickly. However, you should consult an experienced licensing defense attorney before accepting any offer.
- Formal Complaint and Hearing: If you can't accept a consent decree, the chiropractic board may proceed with a formal complaint against you to the state and a formal hearing. This hearing will take place before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), who will hear witnesses and evidence before rendering a decision. If the ALJ makes a finding against you, they will also impose your sanction or punishment.
- Appeal: If an appeal is needed, you will have a limited period after the ALJ rules to appeal to the court. However, the court will only review the ALJ's decision for errors of law and fact; it will not hear your entire case.
Common Penalties from Chiropractic Board Discipline
The most serious penalty you can face after an investigation by the chiropractic board includes revoking your license, preventing you from practicing as a chiropractor in the future, and ending your career.
- Suspension or revocation of your license, preventing you from practicing for a set period or permanently,
- Limiting your ability to practice, the procedures you can perform, or requiring supervision for a probationary period,
- Continuing chiropractic education and training,
- Fines and restitution,
- Conditions placed on keeping or reclaiming your license, such as counseling, sexual harassment training, or drug or alcohol treatment, and
- Public or private reprimands.
Why You Need the Lento Licensing Defense Team
When you first hear of a complaint against you, it can be natural to assume this is something you can easily clear up. After all, if you explain your side of the story, the chiropractic board will see the misunderstanding and dismiss the complaint, right? Unfortunately, anything you say to the board during the investigation, informally or formally, can be used against you. With the possible loss or suspension of your license on the line, you shouldn't take chances. Even a minor allegation can hurt your professional reputation if the complaint, consent decree, or reprimand becomes public.
With such high stakes, you should immediately consult an experienced licensing defense attorney. While you have a duty to cooperate with an investigation, you can also refer them to attorney Lento and allow your him and his skilled Licensing Defense Team to respond to the complaint and request information. The Lento Licensing Defense Team can give you the best chance of presenting your best defense to the chiropractic board.
How We Can Help
The experienced and highly skilled Professional Licensing Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can protect your rights during every step of an investigation or disciplinary proceeding with your state chiropractic board. Call them at 888-535-3686, or contact them online to schedule your consultation today. They can help nationwide.