Even the best medical professionals may find themselves the focus of a licensing board investigation at some point. Any complaints received by a licensing board in California must be investigated, as mandated by law, even though the allegations have no factual basis. Based on the severity of the allegations and the findings of the investigation, your professional image and license to practice may be jeopardized. Careful planning is essential for a good outcome when facing a license investigation. Regardless of what prompted the investigation by the licensing board, how you prepare for the investigation greatly influences the outcome of your case.
What is a California Licensing Board Investigation?
A California licensing board investigation is any investigation conducted by any California licensing board. California licensing boards take allegations seriously and are obligated by California law to investigate each allegation received. Since the licensing board's objective is to safeguard the public, it may be necessary to conduct an inquiry to confirm that the licensee is skilled, moral, and delivers safe practice. Investigations are carried out in a variety of ways.
In California, healthcare professionals are licensed by their licensing boards. The California Board of Registered Nursing, the Medical Board of California, and the California Board of Psychiatry are among the boards entrusted with safeguarding the public when needed. That entails investigating and penalizing licensees who have been accused of violating the Board's separate Practice Acts/Regulations.
When you get a letter from the professional licensing board, your first move should be to speak with a professional medical license defense lawyer. The inquiry by the licensing board is a formal procedure. If you engage in it without first seeking legal advice or failing to respond as mandated by law, your practicing license may be jeopardized.
By the moment you get a notice from a licensing board, an inquiry into an allegation lodged against you could have begun. The investigators entrusted with your matter are investigating whether you broke any of the Board's rules and policies. Anything you say to the investigators, both spoken or written, will be used to your disadvantage.
A licensing board letter will usually include specific instructions on how you should respond (like signing a clearance for certain patient files) and it will frequently ask that you meet with the Licensing Board Investigator for an interview. Failure to respond or comply with the letter may result in penalties depending on the kind of practicing license you possess.
How to Prepare for a California Licensing Board Investigation
It's nerve-wracking and upsetting to be the focus of a licensing board investigation. The importance of proper planning and response cannot be overstated. Here is how to get ready for your California licensing board investigation:
Take the Investigation Seriously
A California licensing board investigation begins with a formal notification. It is usually a letter notifying you that you're being investigated as well as what the investigation is about. Even though you're certain you have not committed any crimes or broken any laws, and you are also sure your license isn't in jeopardy, you should take the investigation against you seriously. A comprehensive, in-depth investigation can reveal things about you that you were previously unaware of. Imagine the investigation has been launched because something happened and could result in your license being revoked. Scale-up and present your best work since your job may be on the line.
Contact Your Lawyer Right Away
Contact your attorney as early as you get notified of the investigation. Your attorney will assist you at every stage of your investigation. He or she will assist you in determining how to make a response to the investigation notification, how to submit any relevant materials or documents to the investigative board, as well as how you can defend yourself against any allegations against you. Your attorney will assist you in navigating the entire investigative procedure, allowing you to advance beyond that investigation and return to your usual life.
Compile Your Evidence
The licensing board will begin gathering information regarding the allegation or focus of the investigation as soon as the investigation begins. They have the right to obtain documents, records, statements, or any pertinent information to acquire a thorough understanding of what transpired.
You must collect and arrange any essential materials for the inquiry at this stage. These documents may be able to alter the course of your case. It's not your statement versus the allegation in most inquiries; it's the records versus the allegation.
When you're organizing your files, don't toss anything away or change anything crucial. Even though the paperwork does not reflect the perfect image of you, having documentation that indicates you committed a mistake is preferable to attempting to conceal or discard the documentation. Concealing or discarding critical details is a way of trying to cover up a minor mistake with a greater one.
Don't Talk About the Case with Anyone Other than Your Lawyer
Disclosing information about the investigation to your relatives, colleagues, neighbors, friends, or acquaintances can cause a lot of problems. You may feel compelled to rant, but keep in mind that anything you tell anyone can be used against you. A single, unguarded remark can have a huge impact on the outcome of your case. Contact your attorney whenever you need to speak with somebody about the matter. Whatever you discuss with your lawyer is confidential and can't be leveraged against you in any way.
Understand your Situation and, If necessary, Take Responsibility
Even though the majority of licensing board allegations are fully justified, some aren't, and it's critical to understand which kind of situation you are dealing with. Although it is professionally satisfying to vigorously defend a license holder when an error has been made, it is typically advisable, if not essential, to admit the fault, take accountability, offer mitigation context, then take the necessary corrective measures to avoid a recurrence.
Both approaches will be respected by the licensing board, provided as you have accurately recognized the kind of case you are dealing with. A skilled medical defense attorney can assist you in carefully assessing your situation and developing a strategy to protect your license to practice medicine.
Make Sure You Are Well Prepared for Your Interview with the Licensing Board
You aren't well equipped for your licensing board interview if you don't understand what the concerns are and what the expected inquiries will be. It's as easy as that. You should understand that the licensing board interview is not the place to just come in to watch how things will unfold. You may lose if you use this strategy. An expert medical licensing defense attorney, on the other hand, will recognize the key legal concerns as well as the queries you are likely to be asked at the interview.
Keep in mind that the investigators will come to the interview well-equipped, and by the end of your session, they will likely have reached some preliminary conclusions regarding your matter. Many of the queries that will be asked will be well-planned out ahead of time, and in instances where your original responses were misleading, you'll be requested to answer a set of questions designed to reveal the absence of candor. Don't fall victim to this. A skilled medical defense attorney can assist you in avoiding this pitfall.
Do Not Try to Deceive Your Licensing Board
If you try to deceive your licensing board, be it in the written statements or when responding to queries throughout your interview, you are assuming an immense risk. Your licensing board has the resources to perform a background investigation. Your history will be investigated by one or maybe more investigators, all of whom are particularly proficient in their investigations. If you've had a terrible encounter in another jurisdiction, particularly any involving a comparable problem to one that led to your ongoing licensing Board review, you may expect your licensing Board to find out about it and investigate it thoroughly.
Take note that any attempt to deceive your licensing board about the previous occurrence will be uncovered. When this happens, you will lose your standing with the board. Do not fall victim to this. Knowing when to admit fault, bear the blame, offer mitigating perspectives, and make appropriate steps to prevent a repeat of the wrongdoing is a preferable strategy. It's a delicate job that necessitates the expertise of a skilled medical licensing defense attorney to guarantee your rights are protected.
Collaborate with Your Attorney
An attorney is a skilled practitioner with extensive experience and knowledge, but you must work together to achieve the best possible results. In rare situations, your lawyer may request additional resources to aid your defense. Help them in any way you can. You are assisting the attorney in constructing a solid defense for the investigation by assisting them in locating publications, journals, specialists, and witnesses for the case.
Get Ready for the Long Haul
California licensing investigations aren't only frustrating, but they could also take ages to settle. Consider your investigation to be a marathon rather than a sprint. Make sure you're ready for a lengthy journey.
Even when every piece of evidence has been discovered, there may be lengthy discussions over what the inquiry's result should be. The board may decide to obtain more information to obtain a better conclusion in some cases. The one thing that's remaining to do now is waiting for an answer after you've assisted in gathering and providing much-needed information.
Why are You Being Investigated by Your Licensing Board?
Healthcare providers in California frequently seek clarification as to why they're being investigated by the licensing board. Most people are unaware that California licensing boards are complaint-driven. To put it in another way, the licensing board will not go out by itself searching for unlawful behavior. The board, on the other hand, depends on others to notify it of unethical practices or actions.
Investigations are Initiated as a Result of a Complaint
Until someone else submits an allegation with the board, an investigation won't be launched into your practice. Employers or other persons mandated by law to report any malpractices frequently file complaints, but they can also be filed by friends, relatives, or members of the general public. The identity of the individual who initially lodged a grievance against you is kept private. Your licensing board is mandated by law to investigate an allegation once it has been filed.
Investigations are Confidential
Everything is treated with confidentiality during the investigation stage of a case. Keep in mind that you and any persons you inform should be the only ones who are aware of the licensing board's investigation. No part of the complaints or investigative demands will be made public unless and till the board issues a disciplinary order against you. It's a good idea to be careful as to who you inform about the investigation as well as the accusations leveled against you.
You Must Assist the Investigation in Any Way You Can
It's also essential to mention that as a qualified practitioner, you have a responsibility to collaborate with any inquiry the licensing board is conducting into your license. Negative repercussions will be sanctioned on your practicing license if you do not work cooperatively or react appropriately to the board's queries for details quickly and efficiently. If you have been accused of malpractice by the licensing board or another government entity, you should speak with a competent license defense lawyer immediately to make sure that you understand what your rights are and have a strategy in place to defend your license.
Common Complaints that Could have Your Practice Investigated
An allegation may be submitted to the licensing board for a variety of reasons. The following are some of the most common allegations:
- Theft of prescribed narcotic drugs from a hospital setting
- Failing to obey narcotic medication waste procedures
- Narcotic drug misuse
- Concerns with mental well being that influence performance
- Concerns with physical well being that affect work
- Convictions for crimes such as harassment, drunken driving, or embezzlement
- Disregard for the welfare of consumers or patients
- Drifting away from the accepted minimum specifications of medical practice
- Failing to comply with patient record keeping requirements
- Failing to adequately assess the needs of a patient or client
- Fraudulent billing
- HIPAA violations or disclosure of confidential communications
- False advertising
- Infringing on a patient's or client's professional limits, including sexual activity
- Failure to repay federal and state government-backed student loans
- Being let go from a workplace because of poor performance
- Lack of compliance with a participation contract and being terminated from the Health Professionals Services Program (HPSP)
- Extending one's area of practice beyond that which has been granted to them
Navigating a License Investigation
The ideal scenario for a professionals' license investigation is that your matter is settled with no discoveries of alleged misbehavior or indiscipline. Understanding the investigation by the licensing board successfully is critical to attaining the best possible outcome in your case. The ideal moment to contact a California professional license defense attorney is as soon as you are aware that your professional license is being investigated by an agency.
A common mistake made by professionals is to delay till the board's license investigation is completed, findings are announced, and complaints are lodged before proceeding. By that point, there had been a slew of wasted chances to influence the investigation's result, directing it toward a conclusion of no inappropriate actions or a reduction in the number of undesirable findings.
Investigators for California's licensing boards are professionally trained investigators who employ a variety of interrogation techniques to acquire detrimental material from the target of the investigation. An investigative strategy is to create the impression that the investigators intend to assist you in getting through the investigation. This tactic frequently encourages the subject to weaken their defenses and underestimate the severity of the risk, wrongly assuming that the investigation is merely a formality and that all will be well in the end or that a slap on the hand will suffice.
Another tactic employed by licensing board investigators investigating professional license allegations is claiming to be an impartial fact-finder who "does not have a stake in the outcome" and "simply collects information and "leaves no suggestions." In an ideal world, an honest and moral investigator would approach every inquiry in this manner.
Although the most diligent investigators should, by obligation, give their views and comments on some parts of their inquiry. When witnesses offer contradictory claims about similar events, for instance, the investigators should provide credible decisions, expressing opinions on who is speaking the truth. And, of course, investigators also have personal biases and inadequacies that can occasionally show up in their conclusions.
Another tactic mastered by licensing board investigators is known as "command presence." The investigating officer could ingrain fear of unpleasant repercussions if you don't instantly obey demands that are voluntary or consensual, like having to sign release authorizations, having to write defamatory statements under punishment of perjury, as well as taking drug tests, through being assertive and firm and also not notifying you of your constitutional rights. Based on the details, it may be more advantageous to cooperate with any or every request, but not after thorough analysis and consulting with your attorney who specializes in professional license defense.
The bottom line is to handle any board investigation seriously, even if it appears to be trivial at first. Receiving a professional license in California is a difficult task. Despite this, all of your hard work and effort to earn your professional license and grow your profession can be threatened by one allegation. While the best-case scenario for an investigation like this is that nothing transpires, the worst-case scenario can include license revocations or suspensions, termination of legal practice, or, in some situations, referral to police authorities for a potential criminal conviction. Find a trustworthy and competent license defense attorney as early as you become aware that you are being investigated.
Find a Professional License Defense Attorney Near Me
You should contact The Legal Guardian immediately if you are being investigated by your licensing board in Long Beach, CA. Our firm recognizes the uncertainty and worry that can ensue if you're the subject of a professional license investigation. We know what's on the line for you. That's why we're committed to assisting you in safeguarding your career. To learn more about how we can assist you, please contact us at 888-293-0396.