SCLLR must conclude any complaint received. Prior to any decision by the relevant board concluding the complaint, other entities within LLR are involved. If the complaint involves alcohol or drug use or abuse, LLR staff may require you to submit to drug testing. Nothing prohibits you from securing independent drug tests suggested by your counsel.
You might be directed to submit to psychological testing if the nature of the complaint is relevant thereto. Nothing prohibits you from securing independent testing suggested by your counsel.
You might be directed to produce patient charts or other records for LLR investigative review. LLR may employ the services of an expert in your practice area or whose expertise is relevant to the complaint to render an opinion on the application of the alleged facts to license and practice requirements. Nothing prohibits your counsel from securing expert witness review, affidavits and testimony.
Depending upon the nature of the complaint, the Board may determine that your license should be temporarily suspended with an immediate hearing scheduled on that suspension.
Unfortunately, custom and practice has shown that the process of the resolution of a complaint is hardly a fast-track process. It is important to press for the process to proceed without delay.
Nothing prohibits submission of documentation, results of interview and investigations, and reports to LLR investigators or the office of general counsel. Informal meetings can be requested by LLR staff where a licensee and his or her counsel can present clarification, explanation, or additional materials in defense of the licensee and to challenge the complaint allegations.
LLR investigators provide reports of investigation to LLR in-house counsel, who then begin negotiations with a licensee’s counsel. Discussions center around how the complaint might be concluded by agreement, or if a formal complaint must be filed and resolved by the board at a contested hearing.
At a contested hearing, the board decides if the allegations are founded or unfounded. If the board concludes that the complaint is founded, the board members then determine the appropriate disciplinary action to be imposed. This decision, findings and sanction imposed are set forth in a public order. Appeal of that decision can be made to the Court of Common Pleas.
Disciplinary actions can include suspension of license, imposition of fines, reimbursement of the costs of the investigation, in or outpatient alcohol or drug treatment with multi-year follow up, mental health counseling, a requirement of additional continuing education credits, a public reprimand or other conditions the board determines are necessary to protect the safety of patients treated by the licensee under the findings it makes as to the complaint.
Mr. Kulp has found this administrative process to be challenging, and on occasion, more deliberate than warranted by the allegations in a complaint. Certainly, as is the case in any profession, including attorneys, the inherently stressful and arduous requirements of any medical practice can lead to alcohol or substance abuse — clearly an issue relevant to rendering care in a medical setting. The statutory authority of LLR to intervene in these circumstances is critical to patient safety-and to the continuation of a licensee’s practice.
Not all complaints received by LLR are valid. To suggest otherwise would be nonsense. Motivations to file a complaint can be based upon divorce, business dealings, spite, jealousy, mental impairment, or for any other reason that compels a person to make a false complaint.
As Mr. Kulp recently argued to the Nursing Board in a nursing license defense matter, the important goal of protecting the public should not prevent the board from accepting that not all allegations are founded. While there may be many allegations that warrant board intervention, that does not mean that all do.