Most licensed professionals take pride in their licenses, which they should because it takes hard work, discipline, and dedication to achieve. Professionals must not only perform their daily duties at work, but also follow the regulations and maintain ethical and professional conduct. It can become difficult to balance the many responsibilities and keep patients, clients, and customers happy. Unfortunately, no matter how much a professional tries to do the right thing, there is always the possibility that someone can file a complaint to the regulating board. A complaint is essentially an allegation that the professional did something morally wrong, unethical, unprofessional, illegal, or negligently.
Reviewing and Investigating Complaints
The agency board will do an initial review of the complaint. Based on the review, the board will do one of the following things. The board could either investigate the complaint, close the complaint and take no further action, or close the complaint but refer it to another agency of the jurisdiction of the criminal court. It is important to take any complaint seriously, no matter how wrong or misguided it is. The board, during the investigation, has the authority to work with law enforcement and the attorney general’s office. During the investigation into the complaint, the investigators can speak with the complainants or any other relevant parties and demand the production of documents, records, audits, and financial reports.
Moving Forward With Complaints
After the investigation is complete, the board will either move forward with the complaint or dismiss it. This point is a critical phase, because if the board moves forward with the complaint, it means that enough evidence and information was collected during the investigation to sustain the allegations and go to a hearing to present the information. The board can file a formal complaint, order a cease and desist, give a notice of summary suspension, or give a citation. After the formal complaint is issued, the licensee has two options. First, they can meet with the department and try to come to an agreement to settle the matter or respond to the complaint with a request for a formal hearing.
The board can decide to hold an informal conference hearing where the complainant and the licensee are both attending and the board can try to resolve the issue and reach a settlement agreement. At the hearing, there may be one or all members of the board and the result could be a settlement, consent order, waiver, default agreement, or some other agreed upon result. This means that the licensee must comply with some order like counseling, further education, or some other action that the board feels will discipline the action or make the licensee better at performing their duties.
If there is no settlement reached, an administrative hearing can take place, at which time all the evidence will be presented and witnesses can make statements. The board can make a final determination that will be given and it can be appealed if it is an unfavorable result. Penalties that the board can impose are revocation, suspension, denial or limitation of a license or registration for a license in the future, probation, restitution, or administrative fines. An employee of the department can issue a citation on the person’s license, which may cause problems with working in other states or re-application.
Licensees that are under investigation or are facing an informal or formal administrative hearing have the right to contact an attorney for representation. It may be critical to have an attorney who is in your corner if you are going up against an administrative board. For more information, contact our office to speak with an attorney.