New Jersey Physicians Assistant License Defense Lawyers
Licensed physician assistants should be aware of the areas of inquiry appropriated by state medical disciplinary boards. What can the disciplinary board ask about what licensees do in their free time and in their own homes? Unfortunately, as licensed professionals how they live 24 hours a day is within the reach of the board and can affect their professional licenses and their livelihoods.
State agencies that oversee physician assistant licensure have extensive regulatory powers. In essence, such agencies can impose professional discipline if they find misconduct that relates to not only issues of patient care and treatment. Examples of misconduct findings are any type of false report or application, a conviction or even a mere allegation of a crime, substance abuse, an inappropriate prescription, marital and relationship quarrels, psychological problems, financial difficulties, inappropriate behavior or relationships, and offensive web postings. The range of potential inquiries is virtually infinite.
Every clinical physician assistant works under constant scrutiny. Everybody knows that clinical negligence can lead to medical malpractice liability, which, however, is not the only risk. Disciplinary boards investigate all complaints from patients, co-workers, and anyone else regardless of obvious bad faith or lack of evidence.
Even in nonclinical academic or secondary employment venues, physician assistants are subject to scrutiny. Regardless of the position, licensed professionals may come under investigation for conduct that may be “inappropriate.” Even conduct in volunteer service may jeopardize the license to practice as a physician assistant.
Use of alcohol with behavior deemed inappropriate, even outside of working hours and off the job, can bring on a disciplinary investigation. Any use at any time of illegal drugs or abuse of legal drugs also can set off an investigation that may threaten license revocation. A conviction for driving under the influence of an intoxicant is an automatic referral to the medical disciplinary board. Failure to pay spousal or child support, a restraining order, and a complaint of harassment or stalking, all have been subjects of medical disciplinary investigations.
The scope of disciplinary investigations can cover inappropriate e-mail and text messages, social website postings, blogs, and any other electronic communications. The disciplinary board may treat bankruptcies, judgments, or defaults on student loans as evidence of financial misconduct.
Essentially, all areas of the physician assistant’s life are subject to licensure investigations. If another state revokes, suspends, or takes any disciplinary action against a physician assistant’s medical license, the disciplinary board investigates the case for cause to take reciprocal disciplinary action. Terminations from previous employment are frequent subjects of investigations. Relationships with former patients or their families have been penalized for professional misconduct.
The disciplinary board takes the position is that the state has bestowed on the physician assistant society’s greatest privilege, the practice of medicine, and with it retains the authority to inquire into any area of the physician assistant’s professional or personal life. Devastating disciplinary penalties range from a warning to permanent license revocation and any sanction between those two extremes.
Following license revocation, a physician assistant in the State of New Jersey, as a typical example, must wait three years before applying for restoration. The typical standard for restoration is a compelling reason to grant the application in view of the misconduct that caused the revocation.
In the view of medical disciplinary boards, a medical license is not a right but a privilege that the state may grant or deny for any perceived offense. To earn this privilege, the applicant for restoration has a steep climb.
The board looks at whether the applicant seems to be remorseful; therefore, the position that the state was wrong to revoke the license is usually an unwelcome starting point. The board also considers whether the misconduct found might recur. This factor is important in drug abuse and sexual offense situations. In these areas the board looks for rehabilitation as assurance that license restoration poses no undue risk of harm to the public.
There must be a showing of competence to resume practice as a physician assistant by knowledge of current medical developments and proof of continued learning during the revocation period. The applicant cannot satisfy this requirement merely by attending some continuing medical education courses a few months before submitting the application.
The applicant has the burden of proof that the license should be restored. Affidavits from witnesses familiar with the circumstances of the revocation must support the application, and there must be testimony about the applicant’s conduct since the license revocation. The applicant must convince the board of effective action taken to correct whatever caused the revocation. The board must feel confident that there will be no reversion to the behavior found to be misconduct, and the applicant has the burden of presenting clearly convincing proof for such confidence.
Consult a NJ Medical License Restoration/Defense Attorney
The physician assistant who becomes a target of any medical disciplinary investigation should consult an experienced NJ medical license defense/restoration attorney as soon as possible for advice on rights and obligations in providing information and for an assessment of the best course of action. The physician assistant should not submit any responses or records without consulting with the attorney nor speak with investigators if the attorney is not present.
A physician assistant facing charges of professional misconduct should contact an experienced health care attorney right away without unnecessary delay. Medical disciplinary proceedings can be treacherous; apparently minor, even trivial, offenses can escalate to allegations that put medical licenses at risk. In such circumstances with so much at stake there is no substitute for the advice and advocacy of a skillful, experienced license defense attorney. Call 212–577–6677 now to schedule a consultation.