Michigan health care professionals rely on their professional licenses to be able to serve their patients, clients, and communities and to support themselves and their families. Few things are more unsettling than one's license, livelihood, and professional identity being put at risk by a complaint or investigation.
Attorney Carol Holmes understands this, and knows that having a road map of the Michigan health care license disciplinary process can empower clients and reduce stress. it's also essential for all health care professionals facing discipline to understand the process so that they can make informed decisions.
A licensed Michigan health care professional usually becomes aware of a formal complaint against him or her during the investigation phase, when a Bureau of Health Professions investigator calls to request an interview.
Occasionally no investigation request is undertaken, for example, if a criminal conviction has occurred. In that case, information about the conviction may have been sent directly to the Board members who review potential complaints, who will decide whether to authorize a formal Administrative Complaint against the health care professional. Under these circumstances, the health care professional would NOT be contacted for an investigation meeting.
The investigators are not neutral fact finders. They are charged with finding violations of the Public Health Code. Even in an initial call, the investigator will try to elicit admissions of wrongdoing or rule violations from the professional. The investigator most likely will try to set up a face-to-face interview; however, if the investigator has met the professional on another matter, current policy allows the investigator to conduct a telephone interview. Professionals should consult with an attorney who is familiar with the disciplinary process, in preparation for the meeting, as well as having that attorney present during any discussions with an investigator. After the meeting, if there is no support for further action the matter may be closed. Alternately, an Administrative Complaint may be issued. If the investigation reveals information suggesting the professional's continuing practice may endanger the public's health, safety or welfare, a Notice of Summary Suspension may issue along with a formal Administrative Complaint. A summary suspension means the professional's license is suspended effective on the date that the professional receives notice. The document also gives information on how to reinstate the license.
It is imperative that proper procedure be undertaken to assure the reinstatement of the license. If it is not, then the professional may be required to wait a year to request reinstatement. DIY is not recommended!
The licensing board may decide, following the investigation, to issue a formal Administrative Complaint. This Administrative Complaint will be served on the healthcare professional along with a letter stating that if the professional fails to make a written Answer to the Administrative Complaint within 30 days, the allegations will be deemed to be true, i.e., admitted. This has very serious consequences.
This is an informal meeting with the person handling the Complaint at the Bureau of Health Care Services, Enforcement Section, or at the Office of Attorney General, Licensing and Regulatory Division; a notice of this conference will be mailed with the Administrative Complaint (form/request), or shortly after the Administrative Complaint is acknowledged/answered by the licensee or his or her attorney. This conference may be waived, but generally should not be. In the Compliance Conference, professionals have the opportunity to demonstrate compliance with the Public Health Code. If they can do so, the complaint may be recommended for dismissal.
If the case is not resolved by the Compliance Conference, a Settlement Conference may be called to address certain issues, including possible settlement. This conference is attended by the professional, his or her attorney, an Assistant Attorney General and a Board conferee. If the matter is not resolved or recommended for dismissal at this point, an Administrative Hearing is the next step.
This hearing is, in fact, a trial, since evidence and witness testimony are presented before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Testimony will be digitally recorded, or transcribed. There is no jury present. The presentation of evidence is followed by closing arguments and may involve the submission of legal briefs. The ALJ then prepares a Proposal for Decision (PFD). The PFD and any Exceptions are then sent to the Board's disciplinary subcommittee. Either party may file Exceptions to the ALJ's findings of fact and/or conclusions of law, if that party does not believe the PFD supports such findings or conclusions.
The Disciplinary Subcommittee decides whether to accept, reject, or modify the PFD. If it finds a violation of the Public Health Code, the Subcommittee applies sanctions within the bounds of the law. These may include reprimand, a fine, limitations on a license, probation, and possible suspension or revocation of a license. A Final Order is then issued; this becomes part of the health care professional's permanent record. The matter will also be reported to the National Provider Data Bank.
If, during negotiations with the Departmental Analyst or the Assistant Attorney General handling the matter, a resolution is worked out, a proposed Consent Order is presented to the Disciplinary Subcommittee. The Disciplinary Subcommittee has authority to accept the proposed Consent Order, or to reject it with modifications. The health professional then has the option to either accept or reject that counter-offer. If the counter-offer is rejected, the matter proceeds to a formal Administrative Hearing.
Disciplinary actions for Michigan health care professionals may have serious and permanent consequences. It's essential to have the advocacy of an attorney who values your license as highly as you do and who will do everything possible to protect your license, livelihood and reputation.
If you'd like to learn more about the disciplinary process for Michigan healthcare professionals, we invite you to contact our office by phone at 248-690-7059, toll free at 866-814-9004, by e-mail via firstname.lastname@example.org, or by using our online contact form. We look forward to working with you.