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Four years obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree, two years in a Master’s Degree Physician Assistant training program, several more years working rotations, sitting for a state licensure exam, and spending tens of thousands of dollars on education is what’s required to become a physician’s assistant. It’s not the type of career path a person chooses just because. It’s one that takes time, dedication, and passion. That’s why it’s a well-paying career, and that’s why losing a physician assistant’s license is something no one in the career field wants to experience.
Anytime someone makes an allegation a physician’s assistant is behaving in a manner unbecoming of someone in the field, the PA risk’s his or her license. Even if the charge is untrue, a person’s reputation, job, and future is put on the line because someone else has decided they need their license investigated. Formal complaints against a physician assistant aren’t a new concept, and they’ve resulted in revoked licenses on several occasions. While it’s true some PA’s are guilty of what they’re being investigated for, not everyone has done anything wrong. New Jersey law specifies all physician’s assistants go through a formal investigation process when a formal complaint is launched.
During this period, investigators work to find evidence to substantiate the claims made against the assistant. If evidence proves the PA is guilty of misconduct of any type, he or she faces the loss of his or her license. It’s a devastating time for any PA, and it’s also the time they need an experienced, knowledgeable attorney more than ever. Anyone can file a formal complaint with the New Jersey Medical Board at any time for any of the following reasons:
– Drug use
– Prescription drug abuse
– Sexual misconduct
– Improper billing
– Improper medical care
The healthcare industry is fast-paced and stressful, and mistakes happen. While the people who work in this industry are required to check and double-check for mistakes, sometimes they occur. Sometimes the physician’s assistant being investigated was unaware a mistake was made, didn’t realize something happened, or is completely innocent of all charges.
When a formal complaint is filed against a physician assistant, the state board is required to provide notice to the person being investigated. Once that notice is received, it should go directly to the attorney representing the accused. A formal response to the complaint disputing the claims is filed, and the attorney and PA agree to work with the investigators on the case to provide all the pertinent information required to assist the investigation. This helps to expedite the process. When a PA attempts to do this without the help of an attorney, he or she puts his or her license in further danger. Too much information can be harmful, but not enough can be viewed as obstruction. Hiring an attorney to protect their professional license also protects their entire future. Even the investigation can turn patients away, cause a PA to lose the good reputation they worked so hard for so long to build, and even tarnish the reputation of the doctor whose office the PA works for.
Not all complaints require immediate revocation of a professional license. Depending on the severity of the accusation, the physician assistant in question could face a professional citation and fines, suspension of his or her license, or revocation of the license. If the license is suspended, it can take months to have it reinstated so a physician assistant can go back to work, and it might take longer than that to find a new job if the office the PA worked for decides they no longer want to employ someone who has been reprimanded by the state board.
Mistakes happen, but seeking legal counsel as soon as a PA is notified a formal investigation is ongoing is what often saves professional licenses and the futures of the PA’s who carry them. Healthcare law is complex, and it’s not always easy to decipher by those who haven’t a law degree. Someone with experience can make these cases easier to deal with, and they can brighten the outcome.