It's hard to imagine anything more valuable to you as a professional than your medical license. Your license tells your patients that you're fully educated and trained; it lets your community know that you are committed to public health. More important than anything else, you can't practice medicine in the state of Wyoming without it.
Simply put, you can't afford to take any threat to your license lightly. The moment someone questions your integrity or accuses you of misconduct, you have to respond. Even minor issues concerning your continuing education hours or your medical school's accreditation can put your entire career in jeopardy. You must take every threat seriously.
What does it mean to take threats seriously? Of course, every challenge should have your full attention. At the same time, though, you never want to take on the Board of Medicine by yourself. Wyoming state health policy isn't just a collection of friendly suggestions. It's the law. You need someone on your side who understands the law and who has experience representing professionals. Luckily, Wyoming gives you the right to full legal representation any time you're defending your license.
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team was created specifically to deal with professional license issues. We know how important your license is to you because we're professionals, too. We've been through the process, and we understand just how frustrating and stressful it can be.
We know a few other things as well. We know what Wyoming state law has to say about physicians; we know how recent technological innovations are likely to affect state legislation; we keep up with which way the current social and political winds may be blowing when it comes to health care. In short, we know the system, and we're ready to help you navigate it any time you need us.
The Physician Licensing Process in Wyoming
Before we get into the complexities of a license defense, let's talk about what it takes to get a physician's license in Wyoming in the first place. It turns out that comes with its own set of challenges.
For instance, your initial application requires several documents, including.
- The application form itself
- A $400 application fee
- Three original references from physicians, at least two of whom you must have worked for in the past three years
- Documentation that you have successfully completed your degree at an accredited medical school
- Documentation of passing scores on the USMLE, the COMLEX, the NBME, the FLEX, or the LMCC.
- Documentation that you've successfully completed a residency program
Mistakes and omissions in your record can delay your license or keep you from getting it altogether. It's always useful to have someone from the Lento Law Firm look over your application materials and check for potential problems before you submit them.
In addition, the Wyoming Board of Medicine requires applicants to provide truthful information about
- Any criminal convictions
- Any mental or physical impairment
- Any history of substance or alcohol abuse
- Any disciplinary actions taken against you, including during medical school or residency
You may still be able to obtain a license even if you have one of these conditions. However, in such circumstances, you are required by law to submit to an interview as part of the application process. In these cases, it can be crucial to consult with a Lento Law Firm Team attorney. We can help you develop a defense, gather evidence of your qualifications, and even give you practice in responding to Board questions.
Finally, obtaining your license is only the beginning. You must also renew your license annually. As part of this process, you are once again required to make a series of statements attesting that:
- You have not been convicted of a crime
- You are not suffering from any substance abuse problems
- You have not lost medical privileges at a facility
- You have not been disciplined by an employer
- You maintain liability insurance as a medical provider.
Any blemish on your record can call your credentials into question.
In addition, state law requires you to receive 60 hours of “qualified” continuing medical education (CME) every three years. Any issues concerning these hours can create further problems with your renewal.
The licensing process is an important function of state government that performs the vital function of keeping the public safe. It isn't an easy process to navigate, though. Having someone from the Lento Law Firm Team beside you is the very best way to minimize your stress and be certain nothing goes wrong.
Just What Can Put Your Physician License at Risk?
License applications and renewals can be stressful. If you've been accused of committing some form of misconduct, the situation can be truly frightening. You simply cannot know when such an allegation—even one that is entirely unfounded—could result in the suspension or loss of your license.
Defending yourself begins with knowing just what can get you into trouble. In Wyoming, that's a long list. The most important offenses, though, include
- Unprofessional Conduct: This is a sort of catch-all category and includes everything from verbally abusing a patient to refusing to transfer records within 30 days of a written request to “improperly terminating a physician-patient relationship.”
- Drug Misuse or Abuse: Mishandling drugs is one of the most common ways physicians get themselves into trouble. Obviously, things like self-prescribing and over-prescribing are treated as serious offenses. Even something as simple as misusing samples or improperly documenting which drugs you dispense can have serious consequences, though.
- Patient Abuse or Neglect: Any accusation of patient abuse—whether physical, mental, or emotional, is likely to trigger an investigation. So, too, can failing to act in a patient's best interest when action is called for.
- Fraud: This can include any type of deception, from billing patients for procedures you didn't perform to misfiling insurance claims to falsely advertising services you can't actually provide.
- Criminal Convictions: Any conviction for a violation of local, state, or federal law can lead to disciplinary action, even if the violation has no direct relationship to your work as a physician. “Doctor” is a position in the public trust, and even something as small as a DUI or a domestic abuse charge calls your ethical values into question.
The Wyoming Board of Medicine doesn't just have the right to hold you accountable for your behavior as a physician; it has a responsibility to do so. You literally hold the lives of your patients in your hands, and you should be held to high standards. Mistakes happen, though, even to doctors. Misunderstandings happen. And unfortunately, people sometimes make false allegations. You always have the right to defend yourself.
In fact, even if you are planning to take responsibility for a violation, it's important that you seek legal representation. The fact is medical boards can often be overly harsh when assigning sanctions. They are under enormous pressure from the public and politicians to ensure that no misconduct, no matter how small, goes unpunished. You never want to accept a punishment like license suspension or revocation when censure or probation might be more appropriate.
Whether you're trying to fight the charges against you or you're looking to negotiate a fair result, the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team is here to help. Our attorneys are tenacious when it comes to protecting clients. We'll make sure you're treated fairly and that you get the very best resolution to your case.
The Disciplinary Process in Wyoming
No one wants to think about the possibility of a professional misconduct accusation. It's a scary prospect, and you probably prefer to just assume it will never happen. The fact is, though, that anyone can find themselves charged at any time. It doesn't matter how long you've been practicing medicine or how stellar your reputation as a physician is. It doesn't matter if your ethics are beyond reproach. No one is immune. That means you need to be prepared at all times.
The good news is that the Board can't sanction you just because someone has made a complaint. There are clear procedures in place for investigating and adjudicating allegations, and those procedures are designed to ensure you get a fair hearing. In fact, Wyoming state law grants you a number of important due process rights, such as the right to a presumption of innocence, the right to review all evidence in the case, and the right to cross-examine witnesses against you.
You also have the right to legal representation. Having an attorney can be crucial to the success of your case because while you do have a number of rights, the judicial process can be confusing, and it's not always easy to know how to use those rights effectively.
Here's a basic outline of how cases unfold, followed by an in-depth look at each aspect of the process.
- Cases begin with an official complaint.
- The Wyoming Board of Medicine investigates the complaint.
- Assuming the complaint is credible and actionable, the Board then holds a hearing.
- The Board determines whether or not you are “Responsible for” (guilty of) an offense and assigns sanctions as necessary.
Misconduct allegations can come at any time. They can also come from anyone. That includes
- Other clinic or hospital staff
Further, the Board itself has the power to make complaints against you if, for example, an inspection should uncover a violation or it should receive notice that you've been convicted of a crime.
Not every complaint will result in a formal investigation, however. Allegations must be credible. In addition, they must be subject under the law to Wyoming Board of Medicine jurisdiction. A billing dispute, for example, or a complaint about your bedside manner, probably isn't enough to warrant Board involvement. What this suggests is that even before you've been formally charged, it can be useful to have a Lento Law Firm attorney representing you. If you know someone has lodged a complaint, an attorney from the Lento Law Firm Team may be able to intervene before that complaint triggers an official inquiry.
Assuming the Board does decide the complaint is credible and actionable, it will then initiate an investigation. As part of that investigation, you have the right to meet with the Board in person and offer your version of events. Here again, it can be vital to have legal representation before you go in for such an interview. You cannot know when something you say will be misinterpreted and later used against you. An attorney from the Lento Law Firm can help you avoid any missteps early in your case.
In addition to any statements you provide, the Board will also collect any physical evidence and interview witnesses. In fact, the law gives the Board subpoena power to talk to anyone connected to the case, including supervisors, employees, and colleagues. In general, you can expect the Board to dig into all aspects of your professional and personal life. And while you may be certain of your innocence, the Board is not. They can and will view the evidence they uncover in the most negative light and use even perfectly innocent statements against you.
It's your attorney's responsibility to make sure you're treated fairly throughout this process and to intervene any time the investigation seems to be moving off-track. The attorneys at the Lento Law Firm take this responsibility seriously. They can help you formulate responses, raise objections to unfair tactics, and generally make sure your rights are respected every step of the way.
Of course, the heart of such cases is the hearing. The hearing offers you your best opportunity to present your full case, introduce evidence, call witnesses, and respond in full to the allegations against you.
Medical board hearings resemble criminal court cases, at least in general outline. For example, both sides make opening and closing statements. Both sides examine and cross-examine witnesses. Both sides have the right to legal representation. There are rules about how to introduce evidence and rules about what a witness can and can't say during their testimony. It's no wonder that most medical boards retain counsel. You need an attorney as well.
You don't want just any attorney, though. You need one who is conversant in Board procedure. Ultimately, a medical board hearing is not a criminal court case. There's no judge, for example, and while the Board may retain counsel, Board members themselves aren't trained in judicial procedure. And, while the process gives you some important rights, you don't have the same rights you might have if you were on trial. For example, the Board conducts investigations and holds hearings, something that would be viewed as a conflict of interest in an actual trial. In addition, the Board doesn't have to find you guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead, it uses a lesser standard known as “preponderance of the evidence.” According to this standard, you're guilty if Board members are more than fifty percent convinced you committed an offense.
In short, you need a seasoned litigator, but one who has experience working with judicial procedures outside the criminal justice system. The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team was built to handle precisely these types of cases.
Finally, should the Board decide you are Responsible for an offense, it then has the power to assign sanctions. In Wyoming, these can include
- Private reprimand
- Public reprimand
- Probation, which may include specific terms or restrictions
- Civil fine of not more than $25,000
- License restrictions
- License suspension
- License revocation
In fact, the law gives the Board the power to take any action it “in its discretion finds proper.” That leaves open a whole range of possibilities.
Your license defense doesn't end when the Board renders its decision, then. Negotiating a fair penalty can be every bit as important to a case as submitting evidence and cross-examining witnesses. The attorneys at the Lento Law Firm will absolutely fight for your innocence, but they are equally experienced at negotiating fair and just sanctions.
Why You Need a Lento Law Firm Attorney
Let's review. Why do you need an attorney to represent you any time your license is threatened?
- First, the Board is not on your side. Most of the time, the Wyoming Board of Medicine looks after physician interests. It's the Board's responsibility to advocate for physicians to the state legislature. Likewise, the Board works to promote positive public relations for the healthcare industry. Once you stand accused of committing an offense, though, the Board becomes your adversary. You need someone who is looking out for your specific interests.
- A license defense is a complicated matter. Rules and procedures are encoded in state law. You can't simply rely on your innocence and the goodwill of the Board to get you through the process. You need someone on your side who knows that process inside and out and who understands how to use it to your best advantage.
- You simply cannot afford to take risks with your license. Your license is your livelihood. It's what grants you the right to continue in your career. You need the best help you can get to protect it.
You need an attorney, but you need the right attorney. A local or family attorney, for instance, just won't have the knowledge and experience to ensure your rights are protected. A license defense is a very particular kind of legal proceeding involving very particular aspects of Wyoming law, to say nothing of complex social and political issues. Your very best chance of success in such cases is an attorney who knows those laws and understands those issues. That's always going to be someone from the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm.
Other Physicians Concerns
Of course, many issues come up for physicians beyond simply obtaining, maintaining and protecting licenses. It's worth noting that the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can provide advice on a wide range of subjects related to the law.
For instance, Wyoming is a participating member of the National Interstate Licensing system. This system allows doctors to move from one participating state to another and continue to practice medicine without having to go through an entirely new application process. Nevertheless, there is a process to complete. Our attorneys are familiar with all system requirements and can help you organize your materials whether you're looking to move into or out of Wyoming.
We also deal with medical school accreditation issues. It sometimes happens that a school will lose its accreditation, or the Board of Medicine will decide to refuse license applications from a particular school for one reason or another. Such cases don't typically involve full-scale hearings, but you may need someone from the Lento Law Firm Team to help you negotiate a compromise that allows you to keep your license.
Finally, we keep track of all the many social and political issues that affect health care in Wyoming. We are well-versed in how new technologies, such as AI, are driving public policy. We monitor how recent abortion decisions are influencing Wyoming legislation. We keep up with grass-roots movements both for and against legalizing marijuana.
The bottom line is that the attorneys at the Lento Law Firm know that protecting your license doesn't just mean responding to direct threats. It means staying current on all the issues that are relevant to your career and thinking ahead about any potential threats you might face.
What Can the Lento Law Firm Do for You?
Your medical license means everything to you. It gives you the right to practice your profession. It certifies that you are qualified and experienced. It lets patients know that you can be trusted. If that license is being threatened in any way, you can't afford to take chances. You absolutely must do everything you can to defend yourself, and that starts with hiring the best legal representation you can.
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team understands your situation. They've helped hundreds of doctors and other healthcare professionals handle similar situations. They know the law. They've studied it, and they keep up with how it continues to grow and evolve. And they know the licensing system in Wyoming.
If your license is under threat, don't wait to see what might happen. Begin building your defense now.