My professional license is at risk due to a complaint, now what happens?

When a licensed professional in Pennsylvania is accused of wrongdoing, he or she should certainly take the allegations seriously. After all, his or her license may be at risk. Therefore, it is often best for those facing complaints to become familiar with the administrative process related to professional license defense.

The purview of Pennsylvania's BPOA

Typically, after a complaint has been filed against a Pennsylvania professional, it becomes a matter for the Department of State's Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA). Essentially, the BPOA provides administrative guidance and support to the various professional licensing boards and commissions in Pennsylvania. In fact, there are a total of 29 licensing boards and commissions that are regulated by the BPOA, including, but obviously not limited to, the:

  • State Board of Medicine, which regulates the practice of medicine, including the licensure of medical doctors and physician assistants
  • State Board of Nursing, which regulates nursing and establishes pertinent rules and regulations
  • State Board of Dentistry, which is responsible for licensing both dentists and dental hygienists
  • State Board of Pharmacy, which not only licenses pharmacists but also registers pharmacy interns

Professional license investigations

While professional license defense in Pennsylvania is typically complex ― governed by countless laws and regulations ― in most cases, once a complaint has been filed against a licensed professional, an investigation will be conducted by the Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI).

Investigators with the BEI will often attempt to question the accused professional in order to get a statement. In fact, they may even appear non-threatening by claiming that they are simply gathering the facts. But, make no mistake, anything an individual says may be used to build a case against him or her, thus putting his or her license in jeopardy.

In situations such as this, it is often best for an individual to simply ― and politely ― refuse to speak to the investigator until he or she has had a chance to meet with an attorney. The importance of consulting with an attorney cannot be overstated as the person's license defense may hinge upon the BEI's investigation.

Seek legal guidance

It is important to note, however, that this investigative stage is merely one step in a longer and complex administrative process. Therefore, when you realize that a complaint has been filed against you, you need to do everything in your power to ensure your license is protected. Most importantly, this includes seeking an experienced professional license defense attorney as soon as possible. A skilled attorney can help guide you through the entire administrative process, including any relevant hearings, negotiations and/or possible disciplinary actions.