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The Office of Professional Discipline (OPD) within the State Education Department is responsible for investigating and prosecuting licensed professionals involved in matters of professional misconduct. There are regional OPD offices in the State of New York, including offices throughout New York City.
Who Can the OPD Investigate?
There are many licensed professionals that can be investigated by the OPD. The most common professions investigated include Physical Therapists, Pharmacists, Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, Dentists, Chiropractors, Licensed Therapists, Social Workers, Podiatrists, and Certified Public Accountants, among others. A group often investigated is nurses. This is because there are numerous regulations specific to healthcare that make nurses more susceptible to misconduct allegations. There are a few exceptions to the list of professions that the OPD can investigate, such as physicians and attorneys. These professions are investigated and disciplined by another agency.
About Professional Misconduct
Licensing agencies are created for the purpose of protecting the public from misconduct by licensed professionals. Specifically, professional misconduct is when a professional fails to conduct themselves in a manner that aligns with acceptable standards. There are dozens of standards that a licensed professional can be accused of violating. In the event that someone is found guilty of violating requirements, they will be subjected to disciplinary action by the Board of Regents, which is a New York licensing authority.
Some of the most common charges of professional misconduct include gross negligence, gross incompetence, having a criminal record, practicing beyond the scope of one’s profession, sexual misconduct, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, failure to maintain documentation, HIPAA violations and fraudulent practices, among others.
Potential OPD Penalties
In the event that a licensed professional is investigated for misconduct and found guilty, there are many potential outcomes. It’s possible that an administrative warning or an advisory letter will be issued. If the matter of misconduct is serious, there is a chance that the professional will face more severe penalties, such as censure, a fine for each violation up to $10,000, probation or license suspension. It is also possible that their license may be revoked.
Depending on the nature of the situation, there are some instances when it’s prudent to surrender your license instead of having it revoked. It is possible to have a license restored that was surrendered after a period of time has passed.
What’s Involved in OPD Investigations?
There are more than 10,000 complaints received by the OPD each year. Investigators are responsible for assessing the merits of the complaint to determine whether or not it rises to the level of misconduct. This is precisely why it’s important for professionals to have legal representation when investigated by the OPD. Representation by a New York OPD lawyer should be obtained prior to speaking with an OPD investigator. Failure to do so can put you at greater risk of a less than favorable outcome. This is because the OPD investigator will make a decision about referring the case for prosecution or closing it for lack of evidence after the investigation. Contacting a lawyer after this is happened can be detrimental.
If your case is recommended for prosecution, you will have an opportunity to negotiate a consent agreement or have a disciplinary hearing. An experienced New York OPD lawyer should be involved in this process to help you make the decision.
What to Do When Investigated by the OPD
In the event that a misconduct investigation is in progress, you will be notified in writing by an OPD investigator. However, there are some instances where this notification will take place by phone. This is the time to contact an OPD lawyer to discuss the options that are available to you. It’s important to understand they your compliance with a request from an OPD investigator is required. This includes providing documents and other information requested. This does not mean you are required to discuss anything with the OPD investigator and it’s better to avoid making any statements without first speaking with a lawyer. Making statements to an OPD investigator can jeopardize your case.
An OPD lawyer will know how to handle the situation based on the facts of your case. They understand practices for engaging with OPD investigators. They also know how to go about complying with requirements, while simultaneously protecting your rights. The value of a knowledgeable lawyer during an OPD investigation is far-reaching. You should contact an attorney as soon as you receive a letter regarding an investigation by the OPD.
How to Select a Lawyer for Your OPD Case
Selecting the right lawyer for your OPD case requires you to ensure they have experience dealing with OPD investigators. When facing disciplinary action for professional misconduct, you’ll want to ensure the lawyer you choose has a record of success handling OPD cases. We have proven success in this area and we’re here to help you.