The physician’s assistant enjoys a rewarding and remunerative career in health care. However, the fact that the work involves clinical medical practice means that there are many legal risks associated with administering care.
Furthermore, the complexities of the potential legal cases and the high penalties means that having a good physician’s assistant license defense lawyer in NJ is crucial. In this post, we will discuss the ways working as a PA can put you at risk for a lawsuit and how a lawyer can protect your interests in court.
Like many other professions, PAs work under state disciplinary boards that oversee the industry. These boards, along with regulatory agencies, can impose significant penalties on PAs working in their states. In addition, their scope is quite broad. They do not need to wait until a patient files a medical malpractice suit to act: any kind of complaint can trigger an investigation. These investigations examine just about every part of your life, not just your professional conduct. A lawyer can help you move through this process as smoothly as possible.
The first area that boards can investigate is your personal life. Even though this is not connected to your work as a professional, you can still fall under scrutiny and face penalties. For example, if you drink alcohol, then any misconduct or incidents related to alcohol can lead to an investigation. That includes fights, property damage, anything related to driving while intoxicated, and so on. Likewise, use of illegal substances or overuse of legal ones can also kick off investigations. Depending on the offense and your personal history, the board may or may not decide to open an investigation. However, do not underestimate the risk, because any investigation could culminate in you losing your license. That makes them quite dangerous to your livelihood, especially if you face them without an experienced lawyer.
Other actions in your personal life can bring on investigations. Relationship issues, like disputes over the payment of child support, domestic violence, neglect, stalking, harassment, or becoming the target of a restraining order are all enough to get the attention of the board. Any communication, verbal or electronic, might cause a complaint that goes to the board. Even something as simple as having problems with student loans, which so many people struggle with nowadays, can spark investigations, because the board considers that to be a sign of financial misconduct. Bankruptcies and missed bills also fall under this category. A relationship with a patient is also frowned upon. Being terminated for any reason might cause an investigation. If you hold a license in more than one state, an event or investigation in one state may well cause other states to impose their own disciplinary actions.
The potential fallout from an investigation is severe. Putting aside any civil suits that a patient might bring, the board alone can issue warnings to individual PAs, suspend their license for a certain amount of time, and even permanently revoke their license. Remember that these penalties cascade across states and employers. If the event in question involved a job termination and a board investigation, it will be very difficult to obtain a new license in a different state or maintain old licenses in other states.
It is possible to apply to have your license restored. The process is not easy. First, you must wait three years. This waiting period is mandated by the NJ board and prevents you from even trying to get your license back. During this period, it is very important to stay up to date on your knowledge in medicine, as the board will examine how you spent the three years. It is also important to come up with a way to show you are trying to prevent the offense from happening again. This might involve rehabilitation for drug problems, anger management classes, personal finance classes, or anything you can think of that will show you are trying to avoid a repeat incident. All of these need to be continual through the whole three years to demonstrate a serious commitment to improving. Remember that it is up to you to prove to the board that you deserve to have your license again. You will also face an exam to show that your knowledge and skills are still up to par.
It will be necessary to provide support for your appeal in the form of character witnesses and affidavits, and those people must know about the original incident. You need to create an argument that there is no chance that the original incident will happen again. The default position of the board will be to not grant you your license back, so it takes a real effort to convince them otherwise. You will need to demonstrate regret and sorrow that the original incident happened. Arguing with the board that they made a mistake when they revoked your license is not a good idea. The revocation already happened, and it is useless to try to argue against that. It will also look like you are making an excuse rather than trying to demonstrate real change.
It should be clear by now that even an investigation is a major risk to your practice as a PA. The possible penalties can make it impossible for you to work anywhere in the nation at the worst case scenario. That is why you need to consult with a qualified and experienced PA license defense lawyer if you even suspect an investigation is on its way. You need to prepare yourself for the entire process. That entails knowing your rights, understanding what to do in order to protect your license, and taking action if your license does get revoked. The legal complexity of the process makes it very hard to know what to do if you are acting alone, and that increases the risk of losing your license. Do not hesitate to get in touch with our firm if you fear that you license is at risk of being suspended or revoked. Even a warning can make it more difficult to do your job. The earlier you get a lawyer involved in your case, the safer you will be and the more likely it is that you can return to your practice.