Last month, the Commonwealth Court handed down an opinion in the matter of Van Ness v. Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs.
Van Ness was a physical therapist who provided physical therapy to special education students. Van Ness admitted to improper billings in excess of $16,000.00. Van Ness admitted to her employer that she did not provide the work and that she needed the money. The Board imposed a five (5) year license revocation.
A skilled professional licensing attorney would have advised Van Ness not to make any admissions to her employer.
At her hearing, Van Ness introduced testimony that she attempted to pay the money back and that she visited a therapist to address the causes of her conduct.
In the past few years, we have represented several healthcare workers accused of fraudulent billing and submitting fraudulent records. Most recently, we represented a nurse who admitted to overbilling her employer for services she did not render. The nurse was charged criminally with theft.
The nurse retained us after she was charged criminally. We represented the nurse in the matter before the Licensing Board and we presented extensive testimony and evidence of the nurse's state of mind during which the criminal conduct occurred and we submitted extensive evidence of rehabilitation. The hearing examiner recommended a public reprimand without any suspension or probation and a nominal fine and the Nursing Board adopted this recommendation. The nurse missed no time for work.
What we can learn from the Van Ness case is that it is extremely important to retain a knowledgeable healthcare licensing attorney immediately upon being accused of any wrong doing. You should not give a statement without the advice of an attorney. We also learned that it is important to present compelling mitigation testimony and evidence to show how the healthcare worker has taken steps to make sure the conduct is never repeated and present evidence of the healthcare worker's remorse over the conduct.
A skilled healthcare licensing attorney will assist you in obtaining the appropriate Mental Health and/or Drug and Alcohol treatment which may help to reduce your potential sanction before the licensing board.