Carol Holmes
R.N., B.S.N., J.D.
Representing Health Care Professionals for over 30 years.

Defending Your Michigan Health Care License: What You Must Know

Michigan health care professionals take their licenses seriously, and are dedicated to their clients and to the tenets of their professions. Almost always, an allegation of professional wrongdoing comes as a shock. Often, allegations are unfounded or exaggerated. 

Many professionals believe that they can "trust the system," (employer or regulatory Board), to sort out false or unfounded allegations. They may rely on their record of quality work and service to protect them. Unfortunately, this is not only a misguided notion, it can be downright dangerous. In all cases where discipline is imposed by the Board, it will be permanently on the professional's Michigan license, and reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank, where it will also become a permanent part of their record. 

Here are some things of which professionals should be aware in order to successfully defend their Michigan health care licenses: 

Get help at the first sign of trouble. 

If you are aware of having made an error, or even a more serious mistake involving patient care (e.g., a potential privacy violation, documentation error, failure to follow facility policy, medication errors, to name a few), or have been disciplined at work, terminated, or requested to resign in lieu of termination, don't assume the matter will end there. Contact an experienced health care license defense attorney for consultation. You may think the matter is resolved, only to discover on receipt of a letter or phone call from a state investigator, or an Administrative Complaint, that an investigation has taken place and your license is at risk. At that point, you have extremely limited time in which to gather evidence and respond to allegations. If you fail to respond to a request for a meeting with the state investigator (usually within 4-5 days), or to the allegations in an Administrative Complaint within 30 days, the allegations are deemed admitted, no matter how false or outrageous they are in fact. 

Even if you are contacted during the investigation, you must be on your guard. Any statement you make to an investigator may be construed as an admission. Do not rely on an investigator's statement that the investigation likely won't go anywhere or that you have nothing to worry about. Despite verbal assurances to the contrary, what you say can and will be used against you. An attorney who is experienced in handling these types of health care licensing cases can help you avoid making an innocent statement which may result in disastrous consequences.

You may have insurance coverage for disciplinary defense.

Insurance companies that cover health care professionals may provide benefits to help pay for disciplinary defense. An attorney like Carol Holmes who regularly defends Michigan health care professionals can help you figure out if you have coverage. Carol Holmes, P.C., represents both insured and uninsured health care professionals and offers various payment options. When considering whether to defend yourself, or to use the least expensive attorney you can find, ask yourself if such a decision is worth the potential loss, restriction, or permanent sanction on your license, and its impact on your livelihood, now and in the future.

Understand the ramifications of a Consent Order.

During the disciplinary process, you may be given the opportunity to sign a Consent Order in order to resolve the outstanding allegations in the Administrative Complaint. This may appear on its face to be a desirable resolution, but you must be certain that you understand the meaning of every single word contained in the Consent Order and are prepared to live with all of its terms and conditions. 

Once a Consent Order is adopted by the Board or the Board's Disciplinary Subcommittee, it is final and permanent. It cannot later be expunged, and it will be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank. You will have to show your employer both the Consent Order and the Administrative Complaint on which it was based--and sign an affidavit stating that you have done so. 

Therefore, it is imperative that if you agree to enter into a Consent Order, you are fully prepared to live with it. You must know how it will impact your future ability to practice your profession, your chances of becoming licensed in other states, your membership in professional organizations, and your opportunities for admission to professional educational facilities in the future. It is strongly recommended to have an experienced health care licensing attorney who works for you, not a regulatory body, advise you before you sign a Consent Order.

In fact, employees of the departments who draft the Consent Order are prohibited from offering legal advice. So, without an experienced attorney like Carol Holmes, you are left to your own devices regarding whether or not a Consent Order is even appropriate in your case.

The Michigan disciplinary process for health care professionals can be dangerous to navigate without the guidance of an attorney experienced in this area. If you'd like to learn more about the disciplinary process, we invite you to contact our office by phone at 248-690-7059, toll free at 866-814-9004, by e-mail via carol@carolholmespc.com, or by using our online contact form. We look forward to working with you, in defense of YOUR professional license.

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