When you are the subject of an investigation and your nursing license may be suspended or revoked, you need to consult with a nursing license defense attorney immediately. Your livelihood and source of income is at stake.
In New York, a nurse is usually investigated by the following offices depending on the reason for investigation: Office of Professional Discipline, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Attorney General’s office, the Attorney General, and the Office of Medicaid Inspector General.
Most nursing license investigations are done by the Office of Professional Discipline (OPD). An investigation is generally triggered by the filing of a complaint with the OPD by either an employer or a patient. The OPD assigns an investigator who then issues a letter requesting to set up an interview with you as part of the investigation. It is important to contact a nursing license defense lawyer before even speaking with the OPD investigator. Your nursing license defense lawyer can already help you prepare a strong legal defense based on the fact that the allegations are unfounded, incorrect, or that there are mitigating circumstances in your favor. If the OPD investigator approaches you, insist that you would like to speak first with your attorney before making any statement with him.
Remember that you are not required to speak to the OPD investigator about the facts of the case, but you are required to comply with all document requests. Do not falsify or tamper with any documents. Even if you are innocent, falsifying or tampering with documents can already be an offense and a separate basis for charging you with disciplinary proceedings or even a criminal offense.
The OPD investigator will prepare a report to be submitted to the OPD attorney and the Board of Nursing. In this report, a determination will be made on whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with the disciplinary action. Some cases get dismissed at this point. This is why it is important to have a nursing license defense lawyer from the start who can help you craft a strong legal defense from the very beginning, so you can get the complaint dismissed at the earliest possible time. Talking to the OPD investigator without first consulting with your nursing license defense lawyer can aggravate your situation because you might say statements that can be misinterpreted and used against you in the investigation. You must have a consistent story from the beginning that will be the basis for a strong legal defense.
The Attorney General can also investigate you for the commission of crimes. Even the simplest offense and subsequent conviction of driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving while ability impaired (DWAI), charges that are totally unrelated to your professional conduct as a nurse, can have an implication and grave consequence to your nursing license. When you are convicted criminally, the Department of Probation notifies the Department of Education of the criminal conviction, who then investigates the matter further. A criminal conviction in a case that is unrelated to nursing can still be the basis for suspension or revocation of your nursing license.
The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) of the Attorney General investigates and prosecutes cases of Medicaid fraud and patient abuse. A nurse can be investigated individually or as part of an investigation against the employer. A nurse can be investigated for billing for services that were not rendered. Or a nurse can be investigated as part of a larger scheme of the employer to defraud Medicaid.
When the nurse’s employer, such as a medical office, nursing home, health care agency or hospital, is being investigated for Medicaid fraud, the employer usually retains his own attorney. Even if the employer has his own attorney, that attorney is representing the interests of the employer. When your interests with the employer are aligned, then you can benefit from the services of that attorney. However, there may be instances when the employer might decide that it is better to divulge damaging information about you or compromise your position. In this case, there will be a conflict and the employer’s attorney will not be by your side. Even if the employer has an attorney, it’s important to retain your own counsel when you are personally being investigated to ensure that your interests are always protected.
Investigations conducted by the MFCU are serious and can lead to arrest and criminal prosecution. It is important to immediately consult with a nursing license defense attorney before speaking with a MFCU investigator to ensure that you have a consistent story that will the basis for a strong legal defense.
The Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) oversees and controls the administration of the Medicaid program in New York. The OMIG can exclude any healthcare professional from participating in the Medicaid program, especially when such healthcare professional has been arrested and charged with a healthcare related crime or has been declared guilty of professional conduct related to Medicaid, such as fraud.
Being excluded from the Medicaid program can prevent the nurse from working in any healthcare establishment that provides services covered by Medicaid. An investigation with the OMIG begins with a Notice of Intended Agency Action. When you receive this notice, immediately contact a nursing license defense attorney because you have a limited period to respond. If you do not respond within the prescribed period, you waive your right to answer and appeal.
The nursing license is very important for the nurse’s practice of his or her profession. It is a source of livelihood and income. Having the nursing license suspended or revoked can also be a source of humiliation and embarrassment. Avoid these situations by contacting a nursing license defense attorney immediately when you learn that you are the subject of an investigation. Should you need assistance, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York City, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 212-233-1233 or send us an email at [email protected].