Our appreciation goes out to all healthcare professionals on the front line and our sincerest thoughts are with our community both locally and afar. During these unprecedented times, The Law Office of Nicole Irmer, as an essential business, remains open and available to help. If you need assistance maintaining or applying for a professional license, of if you have been contacted by a Board or DCA investigator, please do not hesitate to contact us at (619) 237-6130.

The Licensing Board’s Investigation Process is a Formal Process & Could Result in Substantial Penalties

Posted in Licensing Defense,News

Investigation by the DCA or Board Enforcement Unit

If you receive a phone call or letter from a Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) or Board investigator (Medical Board of California, California Board of Psychology, the California Board of Behavioral Sciences or the California Board of Registered Nursing) your professional license could be in jeopardy. The Board’s investigations and/or requests for an interview are not informal.  Do not be lulled into a false sense of lowered security. Licensing Board’s investigations are serious and important, and your unfettered participation could lead to additional discipline.

The Board Hires Experts and Experienced Officers to Conduct the Investigations

The licensed investigator is an officer, and it is his/her job is to establish a deviation from the Board’s Practice Act. The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and the individual Board’s Enforcement Units employ law enforcement investigators and special investigators to conduct interviews and investigations. It is of the upmost importance to consult counsel before engaging in any conversation with the investigator. Your license, and your livelihood, may be on the line.

Additionally anything you say to the investigator can be used against you. Therefore it is of the upmost importance to distinguish between special investigators and sworn peace officers to determine if the investigator has arresting authority.

The Investigation and Interview is Your First Opportunity to Litigate your Matter – Do Not Forfeit this Chance to Resolve your Matter

The interview process with the Licensing Board is your first opportunity to demonstrate that discipline is not warranted in your matter. In preparation for a Board interview, our office first requests a comprehensive summary of the complaint alleged against the licensee. Next, our office communicates with the investigator to obtain the scope of the Board’s investigation. After we have learned the basis and scope of the Board’s investigation our office strategically works with our clients to prepare them for the investigation/interview; which may include, but is not limited to the following steps:

  1. Requesting an expert review of records
  2. Consulting with medical expert
  3. Obtaining a psychological evaluation
  4. Obtaining a forensic evaluation
  5. Requesting specific and tailored mitigation records
  6. Reviewing recent and relevant case law
  7. Requesting Court records pursuant to the Public Records Act
  8. Meeting with our clients to understand the underlying alleged conduct as well as related personal/professional factors
  9. Drafting a mitigation packet to submit to the DCA/Board investigator

Most importantly, our office assesses the information and documentation provided and analyzes if there could potentially be criminal repercussions. As a seasoned and experienced defense attorney, Ms. Nicole Irmer has extensive knowledge of the potential criminal consequences that may result from an alleged deviation from the Board’s Practice Act. If criminal consequences may result from your participation in the Board’s investigation, Ms. Irmer will discuss your constitutional protections and strategize ways to participate in the Board’s investigation while still enforcing your constitutional rights.

As a Result of Individually Tailored and Zealous Representation, Recently our Office has Successfully Helped Resolve the Following Disciplinary Actions:

The Medical Board of California

  1. Physician investigated for overprescribing Schedule II medications, following a patient overdose – matter closed without discipline.
  2. Psychiatrist investigated for over-prescribing and patient abandonment – matter closed without discipline.
  3. Physician investigated after criminal conviction – matter closed without discipline.

The Board of Registered Nursing

  1. Nurse arrested after allegation of domestic violence and alleged drug use – matter closed without discipline.
  2. Nurse Practitioner investigated for practicing outside the scope of his/her license, while employed at a medical spa – matter closed without discipline.
  3. Experienced Nurse accused of elder abuse within his/her practice – matter closed without discipline.
  4. RN investigated after allegation of domestic violence – matter closed without discipline.
  5. Advanced Practice Nurse accused of inappropriate relationship with colleague – matter closed without discipline.

The Board of Physical Therapy

  1. Experienced Physical Therapist investigated after allegation of failure to report elder abuse – matter closed without discipline.
  2. PTs investigated and convicted of misdemeanor sexual misconduct – matters closed with administrative citation.
  3. Experienced Physical Therapist investigated for alleged ethical violations – matter closed without discipline.

The Board of Accountancy

  1. Experienced CPA investigated for failure to disclose 5+ convictions when he/she gained licensure 15+ years prior – matter closed without discipline.
  2. CPA investigated for failure to disclose DUI conviction – matter closed without discipline.

Disciplinary Actions involving other healthcare and professional clients:

  1. Dentist investigated for inappropriate prescribing practices – matter closed without discipline.
  2. Physician Assistant investigated after an allegation of unprofessional conduct – matter closed without discipline.
  3. Vocational nurse investigated after an allegation of falsifying medical records – matter closed without discipline.
  4. Licensed Social Worker investigated following failure to report DUI conviction – matter closed with administrative citation.
  5. Chiropractor investigated after patient complaint of sexual misconduct – matter closed without discipline.
  6. Psychologist investigated for allegation of entering into a Dual Relationship – matter closed without discipline.

What Should I Do If I Am Contacted By a Board Investigator?

If you are contacted by an investigator for the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) or Board investigator (Medical Board of California, California Board of Psychology, the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, or the California Board of Registered Nursing), the first and most important thing that you should do is contact an attorney. This contact may happen through a letter, over the phone, or even in-person. However it occurs, it is critical to protect your license by reaching out to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.

When a Board Investigator reaches out to a licensee, they are doing so because there is some sort of problem. It may be related to a complaint filed against you or a report of a malpractice settlement.  Some Board investigators have the authority of peace officers in California. Anything that you say to an investigator can be used against you in an enforcement proceeding, and may even be the basis of an arrest.

The Board investigator may be friendly, and accommodating. The Board may tell you that you are welcome to consult with (or hire) an attorney, but that licensees are not obligated to do so. However, regardless of how pleasant the investigator may be, remember why they are talking to you in the first place: because they are looking for evidence that you did something wrong. Being cooperative and talking to the investigator without a lawyer will rarely, if ever, lead to a positive outcome. 

Under California law, licensees have certain rights and obligations. For example, if an investigator for the California Medical Board requests an interview, you are required to attend — but you also have the right to be represented by counsel at the interview.

Professionals who hold a license in California have typically spent years (and a substantial amount of money) to obtain that license. If your livelihood is in jeopardy due to a Board investigation, protect yourself — and your license — by consulting with a San Diego professional license defense attorney as soon as possible.

Do I Have a Right to Learn the Substance of the Complaints Against Me?

Yes. Under California’s Business and Professions Code (BPC), licensing boards are required to create and maintain a central file for each licensee.  These files must contain information related to:

  1. Any conviction for a crime that constitutes unprofessional conduct;
  2. Any judgment or settlement in excess of $3,000 related to professional malpractice;
  3. Any public complaints;
  4. Disciplinary actions; and
  5. Reports regarding discipline from health care facilities.

These files may be reviewed by law enforcement and/or regulatory agencies. Some information contained in these files, such as records of formal disciplinary actions, must be made available to the public. Each Board maintains specific policies with regards to Disciplinary Publications. 

Under this law, licensees (or their attorneys) are permitted to inspect and make copies of the complete file. In some cases, information related to the identity of an information source may be redacted. 

Reviewing these files, and in particular, the complaints made against you can be crucial in developing a strategy to respond to a Board investigation. Your professional license defense attorney can analyze the contents of your central file and work with you to craft a defense to any allegations contained in the file.

Do All Board Investigations Result in Disciplinary Proceedings?

No. Professional licensing boards in California may receive thousands of complaints each year about their licensees.  These boards have a duty to investigate the complaints, either using their own investigators or ones from the DCA’s Division of Investigation.

The purpose of a Board investigation is to determine whether disciplinary action is warranted. If it appears that a violation may have occurred, this process may result in a range of outcomes, including:

  • Closing the file;
  • Referring the complaint to the Attorney General’s Office for disciplinary action;
  • Referring the complaint for criminal prosecution; and/or
  • Resolving minor violations with a citation and fine.

An experienced professional license defense attorney may help you achieve a favorable outcome, such as file closure or a citation and fine, instead of disciplinary or criminal action.  While enforcement proceedings may be unavoidable in situations involving more serious allegations, your lawyer can take steps to mitigate the potential consequences to protect your license and livelihood. By conducting a thorough investigation, consulting with experts, researching case law, and preparing mitigation packets for the Board, an attorney may be able to positively affect the final result of an disciplinary action.

If you have been contacted by a Board or DCA Investigator, do not hesitate in contacting top licensing defense attorney, Nicole Irmer, at (619) 237-6130.

*The foregoing summary does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter*