A lot can happen in the discharge of one's duty, and as a healthcare professional, patients could get injured. Healthcare professionals are governed by strict regulations that are meant to protect patients against injuries resulting from negligence. If a patient is injured in a chiropractic session, for instance, the chiropractor can face severe disciplinary action from the state's Board of Chiropractic Examiners.
The disciplinary action could affect your ability to provide services in the future. That is why you need legal help in defending yourself against the malpractice charges you are facing. At The Legal Guardian, we have significant experience defending chiropractors against formal accusations and complaints for years. We do this to protect your license and also your reputation. Therefore, if you are in Long Beach, CA, you could use our legal expertise to improve your case's outcome.
Understanding California Licensing Laws for Health Workers
California laws are very protective of patients, such that if a patient suffers injuries through negligence by a healthcare provider, the healthcare worker stands to lose their license, among other consequences. Thus, healthcare workers are conscientious when serving their clients to avoid a mistake that could cost them a lot, including their reputation. It is crucial for everyone in this industry, including chiropractors, to understand the various laws that affect their service delivery and know what to do if a lawsuit is filed against them. Working with an experienced license defense attorney can help in changing the course of your case.
In California, medical malpractice is said to happen when a negligent act or omission to act by a healthcare worker occurs in the course of rending their professional services, resulting in injury or wrongful death of a patient. The criminal act or omission to act should have been the direct cause of the patient's injuries or wrongful death. Again, the services rendered or not rendered should be within the scope for which the healthcare provider is licensed. Medical malpractice laws cover all healthcare providers in California.
There is a wide range of healthcare services on the market today, both traditional and modern. Consumers are free to choose what to consume, depending on their needs and ability. California licensing laws are there to ensure that at least everyone that is offering healthcare services in the state is qualified and that the services are of the right standard. It reduces the risks of having more patients injured every day as they seek medical assistance. However, this does not mean that patients no longer suffer injuries in the hands of healthcare workers. Many medical malpractice lawsuits are coming up today, as more and more healthcare workers lose their licenses.
We have innocent healthcare workers losing their licenses every day, just the same way we have innocent patients suffering injuries in the hands of unscrupulous healthcare workers. It is not correct to say that all medical malpractice cases are genuine and that anyone accused of the same should have their license revoked. Some honest healthcare workers have lost their permits and are no longer able to fend for themselves and their families. Others have lost a chance to make the world a better place through practice they have mastered and practiced for years. If you are among these and feel that a medical malpractice case filed against you is not genuine, it is time to partner with a competent license attorney to defend your license.
Understanding Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care is not entirely new in the medical field, but it is not until recently that its value grew in popularity. For a long time, consumers have been looking for alternative means of treatment other than relying on medicine, and this is where chiropractic care started gaining its popularity. The fact that chiropractors merely use their hands or small objects to administer treatment makes it a safer alternative to other treatment options brought about by modern medicine.
Chiropractic care is administered by professionally trained chiropractors, who have excellent knowledge of the connections of muscles, the nervous system, and the skeletal systems. Their training involves understanding how to make manual amendments to bring those systems back to working harmoniously, to alleviate chronic pain. In addition to that, chiropractors are also knowledgeable on diet to advise their patients on the right nutrition for their conditions, exercises, sleep patterns, and stress and anger management techniques, among others.
To effectively help their patients, chiropractors must be well skilled in examining their patient’s medical records, diagnose various medical illnesses, and also the use of MRI and X-ray machinery. Instead of focusing on just the one issue that has brought the patient to the hospital, chiropractors take a holistic approach to ensure that the patient does not experience the same or similar problem in the future.
However, even with the fundamental skills chiropractors master before they are allowed to practice, issues always come up, especially when one goes beyond their limitation and fails to refer their patients on time. It is where medical malpractice comes in, an issue that could cost the chiropractor their permit and inability to offer the same services in the future.
For a person who has benefitted from chiropractic care, you may be right to say that the services are valuable, especially in promoting a patient's general well-being. The training costs chiropractors a lot of money and time too. All this could be threatened in a minute by a single case of malpractice filed against you. A lawsuit will not only jeopardize your license but reputation as well, making it impossible for you to do something that has taken you years and a lot of dedication to master.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits for Chiropractors
Like most healthcare providers, chiropractors have to be careful when rendering their services at all times, to avoid making a mistake that could cost their career. Unfortunately, no one is well-prepared for a malpractice lawsuit, and when it comes, you are left confused and unable to act on time to save your profession. It is not uncommon for chiropractors to face various accusations relating to their incompetence or negligence while delivering their services. It goes to show that you are not alone in this. However, it is not enough to fight the charges leveled against you, for which you will need a competent license attorney.
Here are some of the common accusations that are brought up against chiropractors in California every day:
- Incompetence in service delivery - It is possible to face accusations for incompetence if a patient does not receive the results they anticipated after treatment.
- Negligence - You may face accusations for negligence if a patient/patients feel that you breached your duty of care while administering treatment
- Failure to refer - If an issue is beyond your ability, the law requires you to refer Not referring a client at all or on time may aggravate them to the point of filing a lawsuit against you.
- Faulty Record-Keeping - Every patient wants to feel protected as long as they come for treatment, including the records you keep of them. If a patient feels that their information or personal data has leaked from your office, they could file a lawsuit against you.
- Sexual misconduct - This is common, mostly because chiropractic care entails the use of hands. You may face accusations for touching a patient inappropriately.
- Insurance fraud - This is common too, mainly if you accept payment through the insurance
- Substance use/abuse - It is a severe accusation, especially because healthcare workers are expected to be sober at all times while serving their clients.
All these are serious accusations that could cause an end to your career and the ability to cater to your needs and those of your family. The good thing is that a smart license attorney will understand how possible and easy it is for anyone to make a mistake, including chiropractors. He/she will also understand how likely it is for someone to exaggerate or falsify a complaint for personal gain. Thus, he/she will not judge you, but help you prove your innocence before your license-issuing agency.
California Chiropractors Against the State’s Board for Chiropractic Examiners
Suppose a consumer is not satisfied with services received from a chiropractor. In that case, he/she is allowed to file a complaint against the healthcare worker with their respective licensing agency, which in this case, is the California Board for Chiropractic Examiners. If the board finds the healthcare worker guilty of the accusations, the law allows it to take action against him/her. The penalties the healthcare professional will get are many, including suspension or revocation of their license. A revoked license means the end of a career that has probably taken the worker years to build.
That is why it is advisable for a chiropractor facing a legal lawsuit to work hand in hand with an experienced license attorney. The attorney will use his/her knowledge of licensing laws, their experience, and professional connections to protect the chiropractor's rights.
California Penal Code 23 PC allows a state licensing agency to move to court to petition a judge to suspend a professional's license whose criminal case is still pending. This automatically shows that the licensing agency is working against a professional suspected of wrongdoing, even before the outcome of their case.
The licensing board is always working in favor of the public's protection and promoting the interests of justice. It means that without the best defense, you can quickly lose your ability to practice your profession. The right attorney to work with is one who understands administrative procedures. He/she will be able to negotiate with the court to protect your license and the ability to make a living.
The California Board of Chiropractic Examiners is there to serve the public's interests, which in this case are the chiropractic patients. The board controls the licensing of chiropractors. It also takes disciplinary action against those facing accusations to ensure that consumers are only receiving quality chiropractic services in the state. In case of an indictment, an administrative law judge will be appointed to preside over the hearing and decide on the disciplinary action the board will take against the chiropractor. In detail, the most likely form of disciplinary action for these healthcare workers includes:
It is the harshest and most common disciplinary action for any healthcare worker found guilty of professional misconduct. It involves a permanent loss of one's professional license. With a revoked license, a chiropractor cannot render his/her services as before, marking the end of his/her career.
Sometimes the board may decide to be a little lenient, mostly if the charges leveled against you were not serious. In this case, they will suspend your professional license for a definite period, after which you may be able to go back and offer your services as before.
This is a kind of suspension whereby the accused chiropractor cannot continue rendering his/her services until their case is determined. This disciplinary action will be taken in cases where there are ongoing investigations on the accused's conduct, whose results are crucial for determining the case. After a temporary suspension, another course of action could be taken, or the charges could be dropped.
For minor offenses, chiropractors can get license probation. It comes as a warning not to repeat the same violation or commit another offense. The professional is allowed to continue working, but are given probation conditions by which they should adhere. If, after several warnings, similar violations keep recurring, the chiropractor can now get a license revocation.
Letter of Reprimand
This, too, comes as a mere warning for the accused not to continue or repeat the same offense. However, it will still show on public record that you have received a notice on a particular issue, accessible on the board's website. Even though the chiropractor gets to keep his/her license, the warning could damage their reputation and cost them some of their clients.
Fine and Citation
Citations are usually given as an alternative to punishment. However, they will still be kept in record and accessible to your potential employees and clients. Therefore, they can still damage your reputation and ability to gain employment or clients. Fines, on the other hand, could be more or less, depending on the type of offense committed.
Note that the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners applies almost all of the disciplinary actions discussed above. The kind that you get is based on the type of your violation, whether or not it is aggravating, and if you are a first or repeat offender. All the offenses the board receives are classified under four general categories, namely:
Category 1 is where all the relatively minor offenses are classified. Violations that are considered minor are, for example, failing to produce treatment records for patients upon their request, failing to inform the board after changing your business address, and not posting your license correctly, among others. Like all other categories, a chiropractor’s maximum punishment for such minor offenses will be license revocation. However, most violations in this category do not attract a harsh penalty. The minimum and most common sentence given in this case will be probation for one or two years.
Offenses under this category will be more severe than those of the first category. They are the types of offenses that show that the professional much disregarded the law, public safety, and ethics of their practice. Offenders categorized here are, for instance, those unable to maintain patient confidentiality, those who advertise their ability to treat ailments such as sexual disorders, and those that fail to appear when called for an administrative inquiry for another violation. As usual, the maximum consequence will be license revocation, and the minimum is probation for at least three years.
Offenses under this category will be more severe than those in the above categories. They include such offenses as:
- Gross negligence
- Sexual misconduct with a patient
- Offering services beyond your expertise
- Offering services not licensed for
- Excessive treatment
- Alcohol or drugs abuse
- Failing to refer a client when it is necessary
- A criminal conviction for a crime considered to be of moral turpitude
These are offenses that could call for license revocation. However, the offender might get a license suspension instead, for a minimum of 30 days. The minimum penalty could be followed by probation for five years.
The last category carries all grave offenses that could be committed by a chiropractor. Most violations under this category call for license revocation and sometimes imprisonment. There is usually no alternative disciplinary action that could be taken if a professional is found guilty of an offense under the fourth category. Offenses here do not differ from those in Class 3, though the third category carries primary forms of serious offenses. In the case of gross misconduct by a chiropractor, for instance, the offense falls under the fourth category.
The Need for a License Attorney
If you are a chiropractor in California and face an accusation of any form, you are basically on your own. The State's Board for Chiropractic Examiners will only rule in favor of the aggrieved patient and may act fast against you to protect the public. Thus, it would be best if you also acted quickly to protect yourself, your reputation, and your license. An experienced license attorney is all you need to challenge the accusations you are facing. A competent attorney will know how to handle any kind of charge, irrespective of the category under which your violation lies.
A reasonable attorney will begin by understanding your charges' nature and the kind of outcome you want. He/she will take time to study your case’s details and spot any weakness in the accusations that could give you a chance to win. He/she will then analyze all evidence and testimonies presented against you, looking for a weakness he/she could attack. The best attorney will even call in an expert witness to strengthen your defense and gather exculpatory evidence to aid your case. He/she will do their best to ensure that your case is dropped without a need to attend a hearing.
If the evidence gathered against you is overwhelming, there still may be a chance of winning the case when working with the right attorney. Your attorney will prepare some mitigating proof that could compel the board to reduce your penalty. In place of a maximum sentence, you might end up getting the minimum penalty, or the board could decide on an intermediate discipline in your favor.
Some of the factors your attorney will be using to have your charges reduced or dropped include:
- The fact that you are not a threat to your patients or the general public
- That the harm you caused through the violation was not grave
- That you do not have a record of indiscipline in your professional record
- That you are just facing one complaint as opposed to several
- That the nature of the violation is not categorized as severe
- That the criminal conviction happened so many years ago and you abided by with all probation terms ordered by the court
- That the violation was accidental as opposed to intentional
The best attorney will know how to develop a strong defense to see your professional discipline reduced to a minimum. Again, you will have someone fighting beside you and offering the much-needed support.
Find a License Attorney Near Me
It takes a lot of effort, time, and money to acquire a professional license. But it can all go in one minute when you are accused of professional misconduct. It is the worry of many healthcare providers in the state, including chiropractors. But at The Legal Guardian, we have competent attorneys that are ready to help fight against any form of disciplinary action against your professional license. Call us at 888-293-0396 if you are in Long Beach, CA, and let us come up with the best defense for your allegations.