The Process of Defending Professional Licenses in Pennsylvania

Who Prosecutes?

Many complaints against Pennsylvania licensed professionals are filed by clients or patients of the professional. Investigations are conducted by the Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI), which is a distinct entity charged with investigating licensees and registrants in a wide variety of professions and practices. Their findings are in turn reviewed by attorneys employed by the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) who determine whether a formal complaint will be filed.

If a complaint is filed, a hearing will be conducted before the licensed board or commission. Some boards conduct their own hearings while other boards or commissions have cases heard before an administrative law judge. As entities of the Commonwealth, BEI, BPOA and the many boards and commissions are housed in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which is where most hearings occur.

Who Defends You?

You have the right to be represented by legal counsel and you should exercise that right. Caldwell & Kearns, P.C., is a Harrisburg-based law firm with decades of experience representing medical and business licensees charged with license law violations. Because of our experience and location in Harrisburg, many of our professional clients are referred by other lawyers in the state.

Our attorneys have a long history of handling matters before the BPOA and virtually all of the licensing boards in Pennsylvania. Our office is located a mere three miles from the BPOA in Harrisburg, and over the years we have developed relationships with many of the attorneys and board members who work there. We know the steps to take to preserve your good name and your ability to make a living.

More About the Investigation

Investigations into the conduct of a licensed professional are conducted by the BEI. The investigator visits homes and offices and asks a variety of questions, in addition to reviewing records and files. The investigators are professional, kindly and quite capable of putting a licensed professional at ease. Most investigations are conducted without the professional having engaged an experienced attorney.

Consult an attorney before you meet with the investigator! The investigator will cooperate if you ask to have your counsel present. Then, contact Caldwell & Kearns immediately. The sooner we get involved, the better the likely outcome.

Mental and Physical Examinations in Professional License Proceedings

Upon a showing of probable cause, the Board of Medicine and various other professional licensing boards are authorized by Pennsylvania law to compel a licensed professional to submit to an examination by a board-approved psychologist or physician. A licensee who refuses to submit to the examination is treated as having admitted to the allegations in the complaint. The licensing board is then authorized to suspend the professional's license immediately, without a hearing.

Probable cause may be based entirely on unsupported allegations. A conviction for DUI or a drug offense can also serve as probable cause.

Typically, the professional is notified of the physical or psychological exam via an Order, mailed by the licensing board. Upon receiving this Order, contact us before you get in touch with anyone else. Our Harrisburg professional license defense attorneys will sit down and review the Order with you, and explain your rights to take any steps needed to prepare you for the exam.

Negotiations

If the investigation and exam results lead to further attention by the board, you may have the chance to meet with someone at the BPOA to negotiate a sanction. The positive part of this step is that by showing up for a negotiation you can explain your situation and your desire to get treatment, which tends to be viewed favorably by the board. However, these negotiations often lead to admissions by the professional. Our attorneys can advise you on when speaking would be a benefit and when you would be better off remaining silent.

Order to Show Cause

In the event that charges are filed against you, you will receive an Order to Show Cause. This is much like a complaint in a civil case, in that it lays out the allegations you face. A Hearing Examiner will then be assigned to rule on any motions and to conduct an administrative hearing.

Preparing for an Administrative Hearing

Showing the prosecutor that you are prepared to fight the allegations is key. It often encourages the Bureau to engage in settlement discussions.

In the hearing preparation stage, our team works to gather witness statements and other evidence that shines a positive light on our client. Professional references, character witnesses and a review of your records all play a part in this. If the allegations against you are related to substance abuse, make sure to be open and honest with your lawyer. That is the only way we can prepare an adequate defense that explains your conduct. We will also be able to refer you to an addiction specialist or other professional who can treat your underlying condition and possibly testify at the hearing.

These professional licensing hearings are typically held at the BPOA in Harrisburg, but may occasionally be transferred in order to accommodate important witnesses.

Consent Decree and Order

The Hearing Officer will decide the matter after the hearing. One way to limit the potential harshness of the outcome is to sign a consent decree, which is much like a civil settlement. Typically, the professional admits some culpability and the board hands down a reasonable form of discipline.

Our lawyers have been successful in negotiating consent decrees for medical professionals, accountants, occupational therapists, social workers, real estate agents, architects, surveyors and other professionals. In some cases, we have negotiated sanctions that result in no license suspension.

Contact a Pennsylvania Medical License Defense Attorney

Caldwell & Kearns, P.C., defends a wide range of professionals, helping them keep their licenses and professional standing in the community. Call our lawyers at 717-743-1682 or contact us online to arrange a consultation. Our office is conveniently located just off Interstate 81 in Harrisburg.