Frequently Asked Questions
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If you are in a situation in which you have to defend your professional license, you likely have many questions.
Our skilled professional license attorneys have the combined experience with administrative agencies, executive boards, and legislators to answer your questions. We can help you through the investigative process and take steps to protect your rights from start to finish. Contact McDonald, Mackay, Porter & Weitz, L.L.P. if you have questions.
Questions on this page:
- Do I need an attorney?
- The board is my friend, right?
- Will hiring an Attorney make me look guilty to the board?
- What should I look for in an attorney?
- Can I represent myself in front of my licensing board?
- Can I just use get my malpractice attorney, family lawyer, or real estate attorney to represent me before the board?
- What if my license is under investigation?
- What if there were witnesses to the incident?
- What if I’m having problems obtaining my license?
- What if I’m charged with a crime or have a criminal history?
- What if I’ve been accused of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
- What if I’m going before peer review?
- Can I get my license back if it was revoked?
Do I need an attorney?
Although it is not required, having an attorney on your side usually helps you get a better outcome than if you were on your own. Health care licensing agencies follow a very complex process of investigation, evidence gathering, and decision making. Although administrative board members may be your peers, they and the agency staff personnel are not your friends during a licensing investigation and the related regulatory processes. They are trying to determine whether you violated rules or laws and can seek to impose serious penalties. You need someone to protect your rights and preserve your license.
The board is my friend, right?
The biggest mistake most professionals make is assuming their licensing board is on their side. Members may be friendly, but they are not your friends. The board’s overriding mission is to protect the public and NOT the licensee. Since the board works for the public and the state, the board is not necessarily very concerned about your career or concerned about protecting your rights and interests. The agency has its lawyers. A licensee also needs experienced, personalized, and effective legal assistance.
Will hiring an Attorney make me look guilty to the board?
No. The board recognizes licensees are not familiar with administrative actions. You have a right to a lawyer. The attorneys at McDonald, Mackay, Porter & Weitz, LLP have all worked for a regulatory board and know first-hand that hiring an attorney is not an indication of guilt, nor does it make a licensee look worse to the board. In fact, by hiring an attorney, you are indicating you are taking the issues seriously and want to work through the situation efficiently.
What should I look for in an attorney?
When you are seeking a Texas medical license defense attorney, you need someone with specific experience appearing before and working with the particular licensing board or regulatory entity with which you are dealing. It is also helpful if the attorney has specific experience with the particular problem, subject area, or circumstances of your issue. The attorney should have mastery of administrative law as well as the statutes and rules governing your license.
Can I represent myself in front of my licensing board?
Although it is possible to represent yourself in a licensing matter, it is usually not well-advised. Most licensees do not understand the legal process, nor do they have the time to devote to protecting their careers in a complex legal forum. Very few practitioners would consider representing themselves in a malpractice case, but many blindly enter the hazardous arena of a regulatory board on their own. While a malpractice case can negatively affect your bank account, your reputation, and your insurance premiums, an administrative board action can also result in these consequences or could entirely eliminate your ability to practice your chosen profession.
Can I just use my malpractice attorney, family lawyer, or real estate attorney to represent me before the board?
You are best advised to use only an attorney experienced with administrative law in front of your specific board if you are required to go before an agency to defend your license. Unlike many other lawyers, the attorneys at McDonald, Mackay, Porter & Weitz, L.L.P. focus on the practice of administrative law and health care licensing regulation and have done so for the majority of their careers. All the attorneys at our firm have worked for a health care regulatory agency, so we understand the process and nuances of such representation. We regularly attend continuing education in the areas of administrative law and professional licensing so that we have current knowledge in these subject areas.
What if my license is under investigation?
If you have been notified by a licensing board that you are under investigation, you should immediately contact a medical license defense attorney. Here are some “do’s” and “don’ts” to follow if you are under investigation:
- Do not call the board to try to explain the situation. You may inadvertently say something that board investigators will use against you in the future.
- Do not submit anything to the board without approval from your administrative attorney because anything you submit can be used against you.
- If you are called or confronted by someone from the board, politely refuse to speak to them until you consult with your attorney.
- Do not discuss the issue with coworkers or colleagues because you will risk becoming part of the gossip network and your statements can possibly be used against you.
- Contact your malpractice insurance carrier right away. Be sure that you are able to choose the attorney you want to represent you rather than risk being assigned to an inexperienced attorney.
- Document in detail everything that has happened. Be sure to list dates, names, and everything leading up to and after the incident. On the top of this document, write “Confidential – Attorney-Client Communication/Work Product.”
What if there were witnesses to the incident?
If someone offers to be a witness on your behalf, ask if they are willing to write a statement or testify for you. Get their contact information and let them know that your attorney may soon be getting in touch with them. Be nice and appreciative of their willingness to help.
What if I’m having problems obtaining my license?
The licensure process for many professionals can be complex. You may have to submit applications with extensive background checks and information about your past. Here are some “do’s” and “don’ts” that can help you through the licensure process:
- Do not wait to start the licensure process. It can take weeks or months to progress through the licensure process, and the board will not rush just because you have an employment position waiting, moved, bought a new home, or for any other reason.
- Read each question on the application carefully and answer honestly.
- If you have any questionable incidents in your past, document in detail everything that has happened and provide this information to your attorney before submitting anything else to the agency.
- Be sure to list dates, names, and everything leading up to and after the incident. On the top of this document, write “Confidential – Attorney-Client Communication/Work Product.”
- Do not call the board and try to explain anything on your application or incidents in your past. This may provide them with evidence against you in the future.
- Do not rely on advice from instructors or fellow classmates or other non-experienced people. Inappropriate advice can significantly harm your case and can cause an applicant the loss of a license.
- Always make a copy of your application and supporting documents.
What if I’m charged with a crime or have a criminal history?
Many crimes can result in disciplinary action by a board and some crimes can result in the loss of your license. If you have been charged with a crime and need to protect your license before your board or if you have a criminal history and want to seek a license, you should consult a medical license defense attorney to help you understand your options. Follow these “do’s” and “don’ts” to make sure you protect yourself:
Disclose criminal incidents to the board when asked. It is extremely harmful to your license to withhold information about crimes from your licensing agency. However, you should seek legal advice when answering these questions.
- Do not rely solely upon a criminal defense attorney to properly advise you regarding your medical license.
- Ask your criminal defense attorney and administrative attorney to coordinate in order to protect your license as much as possible.
- Do not call the board and try to explain the situation or plead your case. Many licensees have inadvertently harmed their case by calling the board before they knew their rights.
- If you are called or confronted by someone with your licensing board, politely refuse to discuss the situation until you consult with your attorney.
- If your criminal issue is unresolved, do not speak with anyone without consulting with your criminal defense lawyer and your medical license attorney.
- Do not discuss the issue with coworkers or colleagues because your criminal case and health care license proceedings may be adversely affected.
- Document in detail everything that happened, including dates, names, and everything leading up to and after the incident in question. On the top of this document, write “Confidential – Attorney-Client Communication/Work Product.”
What if I’ve been accused of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
If you have been accused of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol or arrested for a crime involving drugs or alcohol, contact a medical license defense attorney right away. We can help you take immediate steps to protect your license and your future.
If you know that you did not ingest alcohol or take any illegal drugs, contact your personal physician immediately to request a urine screen. The screen test for drugs and alcohol should be done ASAP because the more time that passes, the less impact a negative screen has on the outcome of your case. Get your own screen even if you provided a screen to your employer or hospital. You should obtain your own screen in “anticipation of litigation.”
If you believe you were impaired by drugs or alcohol, seek treatment and assistance immediately. Contact your peer assistance program and/or seek help at a drug and alcohol treatment facility. It is always better to seek help on your own rather than being ordered to do so by the board. Also, if you do not seek help, the board may pursue temporary suspension or temporary restriction of your license.
What if I’m going before peer review?
If you are dealing with a license defense issue that will bring you before a peer review committee, follow these “do’s” and “don’ts” to make sure you protect yourself:
- Do not call the peer review committee to explain what happened. The proper venue to explain the issue is the peer review meeting.
- Read peer review rules completely so that you are familiar with your rights and the process.
- Pay attention to time deadlines because you may have very little time to submit information and statements.
- If you are called or confronted by someone concerning the issue, politely refuse to speak until you have consulted with your attorney.
- Do not discuss the issue with friends, coworkers, or colleagues.
- Document everything that happened regarding the issue, including dates, names, and what happened before, during, and after. On the top of this document, write “Confidential – Attorney-Client Communication/Work Product.”
Can I get my license back if it was revoked?
If your license was revoked, you may be able to get it back with the assistance of an experienced medical license defense attorney. As former agency attorneys and with a long history of defending licensees, the lawyers at McDonald, Mackay, Porter & Weitz, L.L.P. understand the process of license defense as well as reinstatement. We can often help you regain the ability to practice your chosen profession. Contact us for a case evaluation and to find out if you can possibly get your license back.