Professional License Defense

At some point over the course of one’s career, a healthcare professional may encounter a situation where the status of his or her license is placed in jeopardy in connection with a state investigation or administrative complaint that can lead to a disciplinary action, the effect of which can be far-reaching. Adverse findings or limitations placed on a provider’s license can impact employment, hospital staff privileges, health plan credentialing as well as the status of the provider’s license in other states. Given the potential impact of a licensing action, consulting with legal counsel early in the process can offer strategic opportunities for discussions with investigators, settlement negotiations and efforts to mitigate the severity of any limitations ultimately imposed.

In Michigan, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Bureau of Health Professions (in connection with state licensing boards) regulates over 400,000 health professionals who are licensed, registered or certified under the Michigan Public Health Code. A healthcare provider may find that the Bureau of Health Professions (“Bureau”) has initiated an investigation in response to an allegation filed by an individual (such as a patient, employer, employee or another provider). As part of the investigation, the Bureau may seek to interview individuals with potential information regarding the allegation and may also want to interview the provider being investigated. We recommend that providers have legal representation during any such investigation to protect their interests. Also, during the investigation phase, there may be an opportunity to meet with a Bureau representative and discuss the allegation and investigation. In some cases, an allegation will be dismissed before it becomes a formal administrative complaint.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the Bureau may decide to issue a formal administrative complaint. In cases where an administrative complaint is filed, it is imperative that the healthcare provider responds to the complaint timely; if an answer is not submitted within 30 days, the allegations in the complaint are deemed admitted.

After responding to the administrative complaint, the process may afford an opportunity for a compliance conference and/or an administrative hearing. The compliance conference provides an opportunity for the healthcare provider to meet with a representative of the Bureau, discuss the allegations, and demonstrate his or her compliance with the Public Health Code. In some cases, the compliance conference can result in a recommendation to dismiss the complaint or enter into a settlement agreement. If the case is not resolved through the compliance conference phase, the next step involves an administrative hearing before a hearing officer.

Involving legal counsel early in the investigation process can provide an opportunity to gather supportive evidence and documentation that is helpful in the compliance conference, settlement discussions and an administrative hearing. The early involvement of counsel can offer opportunities for informal settlement discussions with the Bureau or Attorney General’s Office in an effort to reach a resolution that limits the impact on the provider’s license as well as the collateral consequences.

Our attorneys have represented nurses, physicians and other healthcare professionals in connection with investigations and administrative complaints. We work with providers faced with these difficult licensure situations to help navigate the process and to develop an efficient and effective defense.