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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a list of the frequently asked questions from our clients.Simply click on the + sign to learn some answers to common questions our clients have. If you have a specific question that is not on this list, then be sure to contact us to schedule an appointment.

1. Does My Licensing Board Represent Me?

No, the Professional Boards govern their licensees and protect the public. Note that in New Jersey, the professional boards are housed under the Division of Consumer Affairs, that exists expressly to protect the citizens of NJ. Although this is a very important function, each licensee that is dealing with their Board must keep in mind that its role is protection of the public, and oversight/monitoring of the licensee. Simply put, the Board is not your friend.

2. Do I really need a lawyer if I have done nothing wrong?

During my time as a Prosecutor for the Professional Boards of New Jersey, I learned that it is crucial, not only to be represented by an attorney, but to be represented by one with experience before the Boards, in any but the most perfunctory matters (bi-annual license renewal, address change notification, etc.) Often, but not always, the first contact the Board makes with a licensee is to gather information in order to aid them to determine whether to pursue an action against the licensee. This gives the licensee the opportunity to present their version of events, and should be done through an experienced lawyer who can present things in the best possible light and in the most professional manner.

As a provider defense attorney, I am often called after the initial communication was made and the Board has determined, based on the information they received from an unrepresented licensee, to pursue an action against that licensee. Although there is much still that we can, and do, accomplish for these licensees, by that time we are working with disclosures/statements that were already made and that probably should have been avoided or made differently. We all know that prevention is better than a cure.

3. How do I handle my duty to report impairment/substance abuse/illness issues to the Board?

Impairment includes substances abuse, mental health issues, or other illness that may impede the ability of a provider to deliver care safely. I also often see providers impaired by overwhelming stressors at work or in their personal lives, so much so that I estimate that at least half of those whom I have either prosecuted or defended before their licensing Board are undergoing an acrimonious divorce or the hostile end of business partnership, working around the clock and sleep deprived.

Every licensee has a duty to report the impairment of any licensee, including themselves. This is a serious responsibility in the eyes of the Board with potentially serious consequences to the impaired licensee. We most often see these cases after the occurrence of an event such as: a DUI charge; an arrest; a termination/suspension from work; a medical staff action; or as part of an investigation by other law enforcement agencies. Clearly, if any of those occur, a licensee must contact an experienced provider defense attorney in order to appropriately disclose the issue to the Board.

There are however instances where a provider should disclose their impairment prior to any of the aforementioned events. Many Boards have a relationship with agencies that will evaluate, treat and monitor impaired licensees, often permitting them to continue working so long as they are in compliance with the appropriate program. Some Boards will even allow a licensee to work with an agency who will in turn anonymously report to the Board, and will only disclose the identity of the licensee if they fail to remain in compliance with the program. In such event, the licensee would be considered in compliance with its reporting duty. In all of these scenarios, it is critical to seek the aid of an experienced provider defense attorney to communicate to the Board on the licensee’s behalf.

4. How do I answer a Subpoena/DWSUO/DSUO/Request for Letter of Explanation from my licensing Board or the US Attorney’s Office?

Professional Boards, the US Attorney’s Office, and other enforcement agencies often send these information requests to a licensee in order to gather information related to a complaint they received, or on investigation of that licensee or others. They must be answered within the time prescribed, but should be answered through an experienced provider defense attorney.

Each of these documents varies, but all of them should be taken very seriously. Once you have retained an attorney, that attorney should send a letter of representation acknowledging receipt of the document on the licensee’s behalf, requesting that all future communications be made only through the attorney, and in most cases requesting an extension of time to answer so that the licensee and the attorney may work on an appropriate response.

Oftentimes, if the lawyer is experienced in this area and/or has a relationship with the requesting agency investigators/prosecutors, they may be able to ascertain exactly what the issue is, and may narrow the scope of the inquiry in the best interest of the licensee. In sum, your first response is critical – you only get one chance at a first impression. Therefore, resist the urge to explain yourself without first retaining experienced counsel.

5. Do I have a right to know if a complaint has been made against me to my licensing board?

No. If your licensing Board receives a complaint/information about you, they may do any number of things, but are not required to notify the licensee of the receipt of said information unless they determine to institute an action against the licensee based on said information. It is important to know that, even if the Board does nothing, the information will remain in the licensee’s file.

6. I answered questions/submitted information to/appeared before my licensing Board, but have not heard anything in response. Should I call them?

No. Generally speaking, no news is good news as Boards deal in order of importance/severity of a matter, and not based on the time information is received. There is no statute of limitations for actions against a licensee. This means that, unless you are considered an immediate danger/threat, other matters will likely take precedence before yours. Therefore, as long as you have complied in responding to any information requested of you, and you and/or your attorney’s address have not changed, do not inquire on the status of your matter, as there is rarely a reason to call attention to yourself before the Board.

7. What do I do if an investigator calls me or shows up at my home or office?"

Follow these steps without exception: (1) confirm your identity; (2) take the card/information of the individual(s); (3) if known, give them the name and number of your provider defense attorney. If you do not have one, tell them that your attorney will reach out to them within 48 hours, and find one. Resist the very strong urge to engage in conversation by asking “what is this about/in reference to?” These individuals are highly trained and experienced in engaging you to speak to them, and are out to obtain information to build a case against you. Remember that you cannot take back something you say, even if in error. Therefore, it is imperative that any and all conversations with any investigator be through and/or your lawyer once you are fully prepared.

If someone shows up with a Search Warrant, follow these steps without exception: (1) get a copy of the warrant and ask them to wait in the waiting area while you contact your attorney; (2) call your provider defense attorney right away and send them a copy; (3) if they will not wait, ask if they will allow you to clear patients out of the exam rooms/waiting areas before they proceed; (4) if they will not, follow them and write down everything they take, copy or view; (5) be sure that they only access what is expressly permissible in the warrant; (6) ask to make copies of anything they take; (7) write the names/take cards of everyone there. Remember you have no duty to answer ANY questions at that moment, nor do your employees. (7) immediately debrief any employees who are interviewed with your attorney. DO NOT destroy any records.

8. Do I have to report my arrest/charge to my licensing Board?

Yes, in most States. You should consult with a provider defense attorney to make the disclosure in a timely and appropriate manner, as failure to do so could lead to an action for failing to disclose said arrest/charge, regardless of the final disposition. Even charges that are ultimately dismissed must be reported.

9. How does an action against my professional license in one State affect my professional license in another State?

Both New Jersey and New York refer to said matters as “Sister-State Actions” where the Boards communicate with each other about actions against its licensees. When a notice is received, the sister-state will most often draft an Order mirroring the disciplinary action of the other state, and send it to the licensee with notice that said Order will be made final within a prescribed period of time, unless the licensee submits an explanation of mitigating circumstances to be considered. If you receive said notice, please contact an experienced provider defense attorney to help you evaluate the matter and respond to the Board within the required time-frame.

10. Who can complain about me to my licensing Board?

Any person or entity can submit a complaint, even anonymously, against a licensee. Certain individuals or entities are required by law to report specific occurrences. The Board will screen said complaint/information at their discretion and determine if any action is required, or if further information is needed or investigation warranted. It is very important to know that the investigative arms of the Boards do use undercover agents as patients in order to verify/collect information about a licensee.