Like all health professionals, chiropractors can face license discipline (suspension, revocation, or probation) due to conflicts with patients, administrative issues, or even criminal complaints. As a chiropractor, it is important that you understand the types of actions that could jeopardize your license and what to do if you face scrutiny from the Board. Below we’ll tell you more about the most common reasons chiropractors have their licenses suspended, what you can do to protect your license, and when a licensing attorney may be helpful.
What are the Board’s Responsibilities?
The California Board of Chiropractic Examiners oversees the licensure and discipline of chiropractors licensed in the state of California. However, just because the Board issued your license, it does not mean they are on your side in the case of a public complaint. In reality, the Board’s top responsibility is to protect the public, not to protect chiropractors. As far as chiropractors are concerned, the Board is in place to ensure that they properly observe standards of conduct and keep the public safe.
If a patient, healthcare provider, hospital administrator, or law enforcement agent makes a complaint to the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners, an investigation will begin. Depending on the results, your license could be affected. There are many scenarios in which this could happen, which are discussed below.
Common Reasons for Disciplinary Action
A wide range of actions taken by chiropractors could result in disciplinary action against their license, including suspension or revocation.
Needless to say, if you were convicted of a crime (such as murder, rape, assault, DUI, theft, including simply petty theft, or embezzlement), you could find your license in jeopardy. In addition, if you commit fraud, or act dishonestly in any way, especially if it affects your clients, your license could also be suspended. One of the most common examples of fraud chiropractors commit is insurance fraud, such as creating fictitious medical billing records to get more money from Medicare, Medicaid, or insurance companies. Even if a mistake is made and this is unintentional, your license could still be suspended. In fact, the Board takes insurance fraud so seriously, that if you are convicted of a felony or two or more counts of insurance fraud, your license can be summarily revoked.
Gross negligence, which can also be repeated acts of simple negligence and malpractice, are also some of the most common reasons for a chiropractor’s license to be disciplined. For example, if you harm a patient due to negligence (or failing to demonstrate a reasonable amount of care), the Board may investigate and take action. Other forms of professional misconduct can affect your license. Examples include entering into a sexual relationship with a client, verbally abusing your staff or colleagues, or failing to follow the codes of conduct established by your office or institution. If you are having personal or mental health issues, it is best to get professional help before they get the best of you and affect your license.
Finally, if you suffer from alcohol or substance dependence and are accused of abusing these substances, this could have a negative impact on your license. Driving under the influence of alcohol, using illegal drugs, or stealing narcotics from a hospital could all result in license suspension. If you have a substance abuse problem, get help right away rather than risking your license.
What to do if Your License is Being Threatened
If you are facing a patient complaint or if the CBCE is investigating a complaint that could threaten your license, remember that you will have the opportunity to defend yourself by telling your side of the story in writing and at a hearing. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the burden of proof for suspending any medical license is quite low, so it is always a good idea to speak to a licensing attorney who has experience in these types of cases.
A good attorney will be able to help you properly complete paperwork, create a convincing statement, and may, in many cases, be able to help you keep your license. Even if you are unsure whether you need an attorney, consultations are usually free and can help you get a clearer sense of how best to move forward.
If you are facing license suspension, SJ Harris has experience helping California professionals keep their license and may be able to help you, too. Contact us today for a free consultation.