Professional License Attorney – SC
Tim Kulp has successfully represented medical professionals before the SC Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and practice area medical boards.
If your professional license status is being reviewed as the result of a complaint received by LLR, consult the Kulp Law Firm.
We have helped many types of medical professionals licensed in South Carolina when they received notice of the filing of a complaint against them. This includes medical license defense and nursing license defense.
Why Would A Medical Professional Need Counsel in an LLR license matter?
Without a license in good standing, you cannot practice. In any profession which requires a state issued license, complaints filed against your license are sometimes unavoidable. If you receive notice of the filing of a complaint, your best response should be immediate, informed and effective. Immediately retaining counsel to begin the challenge to a complaint is a wise step.
Complaints against medical professionals can arise in a number of circumstances:
- Allegations of patient neglect
- Allegations of malpractice
- Allegations of incompetence
- Allegations of substandard care or treatment
- Pursuit of disciplinary action arising from arrest, such as DUI or CDV, irrespective of the presumption of innocence in criminal court and irrespective of the outcome of the charges
- Allegations of alcohol or controlled substance use or abuse
- Allegations of bringing discredit upon the profession
- Any violation of a provision of the “Practice Act” that governs you in your area of practice
Challenging A Complaint Can Be a Complex and Arduous Process
Disciplinary reviews and investigations can have lasting effects on a licensed medical professional’s future. Complaints against licensees are reviewed and investigated by the SC Division of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (SCLLR). Decisions on complaint resolution are ultimately made by the appropriate board, whether it be medical, nursing, or otherwise.
If SCLLR notifies you that a complaint against you has been received, civil due process applies and affords rights that you must understand and assert. Kulp Law Firm is familiar with best response practices to a complaint and the importance of preparation to defense of a complaint.
As a licensee, you have agreed to respond to notice of a complaint. You have the right to be represented by a professional license attorney.
SCLLR is charged by law with the responsibility of ensuring patient safety, an understandable and important duty. Upon receipt of a complaint, SCLLR must notice the licensee and must conduct an investigation to determine if the complaint is founded or not.
No law or person can prevent a patient or person from filing a false or incorrect complaint. It happens.
Beyond the duty to cooperate, a licensee should prepare a full response including the results of his or her own investigation directed by retained counsel. All available discovery in the LLR file associated with the complaint needs to be acquired. Witnesses need to be interviewed and investigated. The identity of complainants do not have to be disclosed under the theory that there should be no impediment to a person to file a complaint, such as fear of disclosure of their names. Yet, in many instances the complainant can be determined within the facts of the allegation. This is critical to preparation of a full defense to the complaint.
Applicable rules, regulations and provisions of the relevant practice act must be known by counsel for the licensee. Counsel for a licensee must be skilled in the means and methods of negotiation throughout the complaint process. Where negotiation fails, counsel for a licensee needs to be prepared to present a full, complete and effective case to the relevant board in a contested hearing setting. It is best for a lawyer to assume from the start that the only way a complaint may be able to be resolved is at full, contested hearing. Early preparation and strategy identification results in better hearing outcomes. The process of preparation can also provide negotiation advantages.
Mr. Kulp has handled both extensive negotiations and has fought hard for licensees in hotly contested hearings.
The Complaint Process
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.
Why chose Kulp Law Firm for representation?
One benefit of practicing so long is experience. Maybe that is why it is called “practicing” law throughout a lawyer’s career. A lawyer never stops learning from every case, every hearing, every trial, every appeal, every day in a courtroom.
Over the course of 38 years of practicing, Mr. Kulp has learned how to be an advocate for persons accused of a crime or, in the setting of professional licensing, of violating provisions of the relevant practice act.
Contact us today. If you receive notice of a complaint being filed, we are happy to meet with you at the earliest opportunity.