Receiving a notice from your Board that your healthcare license is under investigation is a frightening and traumatic experience. It is imperative that you take certain actions and avoid other actions to protect your license. Doing the wrong thing can mean the difference between keeping your license, receiving severe sanctions, or even losing your license. The following is a general list of suggestions you should consider after your complaint letter arrives:
A. Do Not Call the Board
It is understandable that professionals take complaints very personally and feel attacked when they are accused of wrongdoing. They feel compelled to explain what happened and to plead their cases. Unfortunately, many healthcare professionals have inadvertently harmed their case by calling their Board before knowing their rights. Board investigators take extensive notes or record conversations when you call, and this information can be used against you in the future. The same is true of anything you put into writing.
B. Do Not Speak to Board Staff or Board Members
If you have wisely retained an attorney to help you with your case, politely but firmly refuse to speak with any representative from the Board either on the phone or in person. Explain to the Board investigator that your attorney has instructed you not to speak to anyone and tell the Board investigator that he or she will need to contact your attorney directly.
C. Do Not Discuss the Complaint with Anyone
Do not discuss your case or the events surrounding your complaint with co-workers, colleagues, or facility administrators. This may be difficult for healthcare professionals to do but it is very important. Anyone that you speak to may ultimately become a witness in your case – sometimes unknowingly a witness against you.
D. Contact Your Professional Liability Insurance Carrier if You Have One
Most insurance companies will pay for an attorney to assist you if you have received a regulatory Board complaint. But there is usually a provision that requires you to contact them immediately in order for coverage to apply. Be sure that you are able to choose the attorney you want to represent you, rather than risk being assigned an attorney who is not proficient in this field of law.
E. Complete Documentation
Document IN DETAIL everything that has happened and all the events surrounding the complaint. List dates, names, and any circumstances leading up to and after the incident as well as the details about the incident. On the top of this document, write “Confidential: Attorney-Client Communication/Work Product.”
If a witness or someone else who is familiar with the incident is willing to write a statement or testify on your behalf, notify your attorney or, if you do not have an attorney, ask that individual to write an affidavit (a sworn statement) describing the facts. The statement should be notarized.