New York Physical Therapist License Defense Lawyers
Physical therapists provide an invaluable service in helping patients recover from injuries, illnesses, and medical procedures. However, even the most well-intentioned physical therapist can find themselves facing disciplinary action that threatens their license and career. If you are a New York physical therapist who has been accused of misconduct, it is critical that you seek legal representation from an experienced New York physical therapist license defense lawyer.
Common Causes of Disciplinary Action Against Physical Therapists
There are many ways a physical therapist may end up under investigation by the New York State Education Department’s Office of Professional Discipline (OPD), including:
- Negligence or malpractice – If a patient suffers harm or does not improve as expected under a physical therapist’s care, they may file a complaint accusing the therapist of incompetence or negligence. Even unintentional mistakes can prompt disciplinary action if they are found to fall below the standard of care.
- Inappropriate conduct – Boundary violations, such as becoming romantically/sexually involved with a patient, are considered highly unethical and will likely lead to severe consequences. Verbal abuse, physical abuse, or harassment of patients or colleagues may also result in discipline.
- Substance abuse – Struggling with drug or alcohol addiction can raise questions about a physical therapist’s competence and judgment when treating patients. Even if the substance abuse occurs outside of work, it may threaten their license.
- Insurance/billing fraud – Unethical billing practices such as overbilling or billing for services not performed may be reported by insurance companies or government payers like Medicare/Medicaid.
The Disciplinary Process
New York has a uniform complaint system that allows anyone – patients, colleagues, etc. – to file a complaint against a licensed physical therapist to OPD. Here’s what happens next:
- Investigation – OPD will gather evidence, conduct interviews, and subpoena records to determine if the complaint has merit. If there is insufficient evidence, no action is taken.
- Consent order – The physical therapist may be offered a consent order to accept disciplinary action and avoid a hearing. This may allow them to keep their license with restrictions.
- Hearing – If no consent agreement is reached, the matter goes before the Board of Regents at a formal hearing. The board listens to arguments and determines what disciplinary action to impose.
- Penalties – Depending on the severity, the board may issue penalties ranging from censure and fines to probation, suspension, or permanent revocation of the physical therapist’s license.
How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist License Defense Lawyer
Not all lawyers have relevant experience – when selecting counsel, look for:
- Specialization in healthcare law – Specifically, a focus on physical therapy license defense cases.
- Experience – A long track record of handling New York OPD investigations and hearings. Check client reviews.
- Resources – Choose a firm with the staff and resources for vigorous representation. A solo lawyer may be overwhelmed.
- Communication skills – They should be responsive, attentive listeners who explain the process in understandable terms.
- Objectivity – Beware any guarantees or absolutes. Ethical lawyers will be honest about possible outcomes.
Strategies Physical Therapist License Defense Lawyers May Use
Skilled lawyers have many strategies to protect your license:
- Negotiating consent orders – If discipline is unavoidable, they negotiate the least damaging sanctions.
- Challenging credibility – Questioning the motives, mental state, or reliability of complainants.
- Disputing evidence – Finding holes or inconsistencies in investigative interviews/records.
- Raising procedural issues – E.g. arguing the complaint was filed past the statute of limitations.
- Presenting mitigating factors – Highlighting your years of ethical service, positive performance reviews, etc.
- Utilizing character witnesses – Letters or testimony from colleagues, employers, and patients can demonstrate your capabilities and integrity.
- Alternative explanations – Providing benign explanations for alleged misconduct.
The Value of Vigorous Legal Advocacy
Defending your physical therapy license is an investment in your future. Although legal fees may seem high, not fighting a disciplinary case can be far more costly if you lose your livelihood. An experienced license defense lawyer levels the playing field and gives you the best chance of preserving your career. They can guide you through the complexities of the system while aggressively defending your interests. Most importantly, the right lawyer provides hope and peace of mind that you have an ally to fight for your reputation and career. Don’t leave your fate to chance – call an experienced physical therapist license defense lawyer today.