The Danger of Surrendering Your Professional License

| Posted in Licensing Defense on May 2, 2023

In California, various licensing boards – such as the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) and the Medical Board of California (MBC) – regulate their respective healthcare professions. In addition to setting licensure standards, these boards are responsible for investigating allegations of professional misconduct and other violations. Healthcare licensing boards can take disciplinary action, ranging from a reprimand to probation to a revocation, if a licensee is found to have violated professional standards of the professional’s license.

In the face of an investigation, some healthcare professionals may decide that the best course of action is to simply surrender their license – particularly if they hold other licenses in California or another jurisdiction. While a voluntary surrender is easier than going through the investigation and hearing process, it can often be a permanent solution to what would otherwise be a temporary solution. If you surrender your license, it can affect your ability to practice using other licenses, to work in other states – or even to be reinstated.

At the Law Office of Nicole Irmer, we have decades of experience advocating for healthcare professionals in California. We offer skilled, compassionate legal representation, which includes advice on the long-term impact of a voluntary surrender. If you are facing an investigation or disciplinary action from your licensing board, reach out to our law firm today to learn more about how we can help you develop a strategic defense.

The Possible Consequences of Surrendering Your Professional License

Surrendering your license may seem like a viable alternative to going through the disciplinary process. However, a voluntary surrender can have far-reaching consequences that you may not have considered.

As an initial matter, if you voluntarily surrender your license, you may not be able to obtain a healthcare license in the state of California again. For example, on the MBC’s voluntary surrender form, a licensee must acknowledge that submitting the form means that their license will be canceled and cannot be renewed, reinstated, or restored. In order to become licensed in California in the future, you would have to apply for a new license and go through the current  process is in place for applicants at that time.

A voluntary surrender of your professional license in California may also have an impact on your licensure in other states. If you surrender your license while there is a pending complaint, investigation, or disciplinary action, it will be treated as a revocation of the license for disciplinary purposes.  It will be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), and subsequently to any other state where you hold a license. This typically leads to disciplinary action in other states.

When the surrender is reported to the NPDB, the federal Department of Health and Human Services may take action to exclude you from the Medicare program. Similarly, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) can  suspend participation in the Medi-Cal program. As a result, you will not be able to work in any facility that receives either federal Medicare or state Medi-Cal funding.

If you go through the disciplinary process, however, you may be able to negotiate a settlement or obtain a more favorable result at a hearing by introducing mitigating evidence. Even if your license is revoked, there is a process through which you can be reinstated. Before making any decision about how to handle an investigation or disciplinary action, consult with an experienced San Diego healthcare license defense attorney. 

Is There Any Reason to Voluntarily Surrender Your Professional License?

If you are under investigation for an alleged violation of professional standards by a licensing board, you may be tempted to just throw in the towel. After all, an investigation can be incredibly stressful. You may not believe that you have a good defense, and would rather cut your losses and just give up your license to practice entirely.  

You may also be considering the fact that disciplinary action by professional licensing boards is public. If your board sanctions you in some way, then the details of the investigation and any discipline will be searchable. You may think that surrendering your license is the best way to protect your reputation. 

Generally, a voluntary surrender is not a good option for healthcare professionals. While you might save the aggravation and expense of going through an investigation and hearing, the long-term consequences have far reaching collateral impacts, which could be worse. If you decide to surrender your professional license, it may be difficult or even impossible to work in healthcare in California or any other state – potentially permanently.

There is one exception, however. If you are at the end of your career, ready to retire, or have no plans to work in healthcare in the future, then it may make sense to agree to a voluntary surrender.  Before doing so, however, you should consult with an experienced healthcare license defense attorney to get a complete understanding of what a professional license surrender will mean for your career.

Don’t Surrender Your License. Call Our Law Firm First.

Being accused of committing a professional violation can be overwhelming and scary. However, it may be possible to defend yourself against these charges.  Surrendering your professional license is rarely a good option for healthcare professionals.

The Law Office of Nicole Irmer advocates for healthcare professionals who are facing investigations and disciplinary action from their licensing board. We understand how serious these matters are, and use our considerable experience to help our clients get the best possible result. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a California professional licensing defense attorney, give us a call at 619-237-6130 or fill out our online contact form.

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