Disciplinary Proceedings and Unexpected Consequences for Healthcare Professionals

February 17, 2023
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

Facing disciplinary action can be intimidating – even if you are not worried about losing your license, you may be worried about the impact that the proceeding will have on your professional reputation. The potential outcomes you face must be taken into consideration when deciding how to respond to the proceeding, as well as the time, stress, and money that will be involved in defending yourself. 

Formulating a strategy for responding to a disciplinary proceeding requires a layered approach. Unfortunately, many people focus exclusively on the immediate consequences such as sanctions, reprimands, or suspension or revocation of their licenses in deciding how to proceed. They may agree to enter into a consent order as a way of avoiding the harshest penalties but also as a way to save themselves time and stress. This can lead to consequences that are not only unexpected but, had you been aware, may have changed how you handled the disciplinary process. 

For the reasons we discuss below, doctors and nurses especially need to consider all of the potential consequences before agreeing to a disposition of their case. An experienced professional license defense attorney can assess all of the potential consequences and help you formulate an effective strategy focused on delivering a fair result. 

Potential Employment Issues

Most healthcare professionals work with some sort of organization, such as a hospital, clinic, or practice group. This means that they likely signed an employment contract when they accepted their current position. These contracts often contain a provision that requires the professional to maintain a license in good standing as a condition of continued employment. 

Depending on how the provision is worded, agreeing to probation or even a reprimand could jeopardize your employment with the organization. As a result, you should carefully review your employment agreement for any such restrictions when deciding how to handle disciplinary action. A professional license attorney may be able to help you navigate this issue with your employer in order to avoid losing your job. 

Hospital Privileges

Physicians who are in private practice also need to consider the impact that the disciplinary proceeding could have on their hospital privileges. A temporary suspension of your license or even probation could result in the revocation of your hospital privileges which may not be easy to restore. In addition, a revocation of your hospital privileges could impact your income and your employability. Any healthcare provider, such as a physical therapist, who provides treatment in a hospital or similar facility should consider the impact the disciplinary action may have on their daily practice privileges. A professional license defense attorney can help you in assessing this aspect of your case and how you can minimize any impact on your privileges. 

Insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid 

Another potential consequence is the impact that the outcome of your case may have on your ability to bill insurance and government reimbursement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid for your services. In order to bill for their services, healthcare providers sign a participation or provider agreement with the insurance company that often includes a provision requiring the provider to maintain a license without restriction. A temporary suspension or even probation could result in the termination of that agreement, meaning that you will be unable to bill for your services. While nurses do not bill directly for their services, this aspect of disciplinary action can be problematic for doctors, dentists, optometrists, or anyone else whose patients require insurance coverage in order to pay for their treatment. 

Medicare and Medicaid exclusions can be especially problematic for healthcare professionals. Depending on the violation that occurred, your exclusion could be for a significant period of time – up to 55 years, if you were engaged in billing fraud or other similarly serious offenses. In addition, exclusion from Medicare or Medicaid could have a domino effect that results in the loss of your hospital privileges and other consequences that would effectively end your career. While a Medicare exclusion is appealable, the best way to avoid the exclusion is to contact a professional license defense lawyer as soon as possible. 

Is Your License at Risk? Professional License Defense Lawyer Jay Stafford Can Help 

If you are facing disciplinary action, your career may be at stake in ways you did not anticipate. At the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, we provide our clients with a 360-degree assessment of the potential consequences they face and then develop a carefully tailored strategy focused on obtaining the best possible result. To discuss your case and your options, contact us today by calling 410-514-6099.