Healthcare Practitioners License Defense Attorneys
California State Medical Board Powers
The practice of medicine and other healing arts is closely regulated in the United States. In recent years, this regulation has increased at both the state and federal levels. Licensed physicians and other health care providers face potential disciplinary actions from a multitude of public and privately operated agencies and other entities, including federal entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid, DEA, and managed care organizations quality assurance boards. However, the one agency which usually maintains the power to terminate a health care professional’s license to practice remains the state medical licensing board.
If your California healthcare practitioners license is at risk, contact our attorneys right away to learn your rights. Fill out our online form or call us at 1-800-LAW-MDJD (1-800-529-6353).
If you receive a letter or call from a Board or agency investigator, you should contact an attorney prior to responding. Board disciplinary actions usually begin with an investigation into your practice. These investigations may be prompted by any number of events, including complaints filed by other professionals and/or patients made directly to the licensing board, reports of payments made by malpractice insurance carriers, or reports filed by peer review bodies when disciplinary actions are taken in connection with ethical complaints or staff privileges. Licensing boards may also learn of criminal convictions (including DUIs) or disciplinary actions taken against a professional by licensing boards in another state or jurisdiction through agencies such as the Federation of State Medical Boards, practitioner databases, or even through the media. A practitioner may not be aware that he or she is being investigated until the time when formal charges are filed.
An investigation interview will be held, and our experienced healthcare licensing attorneys can help prepare you and represent you during that process. It is critical to get an attorney involved immediately after you learn of the investigation, so that we can effectively and proactively manage the investigative and formal hearing process. Your life’s work might be on the line. Do not wait to take action!
If a formal accusation has been filed, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Now that you have received an Accusation, you have an important deadline to meet. You (or your attorney) will need to promptly file a Notice of Defense within 15 days of the receipt of the Accusation. It is important that you mail it to the Deputy Attorney General (DAG) assigned to your case by Certified Mail. Always keep a copy of the Notice of Defense that you mail. You (or your attorney) should also check with the Agency to make sure your Notice of Defense was received by the Office of Administrative Hearings and agency attorney (DAG). It is crucial that you file a Notice of Defense because you could waive your right to a hearing and you may lose your license by a default judgment. Always make sure that the licensing board has your correct mailing address.
If you received an Accusation or Statement of Issues, you are entitled to an administrative hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). The licensing Board or agency will be represented by a Deputy Attorney General (DAG) who is experienced in administrative disciplinary matters. The ALJ will expect you to know the rules and procedures of an Administrative Hearing. You have the right to be represented by counsel at your expense throughout the hearing process. Although licensees have a legal right to self-representation, we recommend you seek legal counsel to ensure you bolster a strong case to defend your license.
After the Administrative Hearing, the ALJ has 30 days to draft a proposed decision. The licensing board or agency then has up to 100 days to either accept, reject, or modify the ALJ’s Proposed Decision. If the final decision by the Board or agency is unfavorable, you can file a Petition for Reconsideration (hyperlink?). A health care provider is entitled to a formal hearing before his or her license may be restricted or revoked, but the nature and extent of the hearing may vary depending upon the state law, as well as how one responds to the accusation in the first instance. Agencies are granted a great deal of leeway in prosecuting licensees and are accorded wide deference by the courts when their final decisions are challenged as improper or unfair. A lawyer defending a license disciplinary action on behalf of a professional health care provider must be vigilant in protecting the professional’s constitutional rights of due process and preserving all objections for purposes of appeal. A provider who defends himself throughout the formal hearing process, and then comes to the lawyer when disciplinary sanctions have been imposed and the time for appeal is already running, stands less chance in reversing the agency’s order.
Interim Suspension Orders
An interim suspension order (ISO) is an emergency order that an administrative law judge (ALJ) at the can issue to immediately suspend a professional license. An ALJ can issue a suspension order prior to hearing only if the Deputy Attorney General (DAG) representing the licensing board or agency can prove that the licensee’s unrestricted practice would result in imminent harm to the public. An interim suspension order can put an immediate halt on a professional’s career. If an ISO is granted, all licensed activity must immediately stop. After an ISO is granted, the licensing board or agency will issue an Accusation and will subsequently have a full hearing on the matter. The licensing board or agency will likely seek to discipline the professional license to the fullest extent possible, including revocation.
If you have received an ISO, contact an experienced California healthcare defense attorney as soon as possible.
How We Can Help
The Law Firm of Marvin Firestone, MD•JD, & Associates, LLP, in Northern California, has been helping doctors, nurses, psychologists, and other healthcare professionals protect and defend their professional licenses for over 40 years. Our medical-legal experience can mean the difference in your professional career. By getting involved immediately after the physician or healthcare professional knows of an investigation of care, our experienced California healthcare license defense attorneys can help to control the investigative and formal hearing process, develop the evidence needed to defend allegations, and uncover the true facts. If you are the target of an investigation or Board Accusation, do not delay seeking the advice and counsel of a health or medical lawyer. To schedule a FREE initial phone consultation, fill out our online form or call us at 1-800-LAW-MDJD (1-800-529-6353).
Our main law office is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, and we serve clients throughout the State of California.