If you are facing a possible disciplinary action against your chiropractic license by the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners, your future career and livelihood are in jeopardy. To protect your license and your professional reputation, it is in your best interests to waste no time in securing the services of an experienced license defense attorney.
At California License Attorney, we have been successfully defending chiropractors against formal complaints and accusations for many years. We understand not only the relevant laws and regulations down to the legal minutia, but we also have practical experience across a wide array of case-types.
No situation is too dire, nor is any alleged violation so minor, that we cannot improve the final outcome. To learn more and to avail yourself of a free, no-obligation consultation, call us anytime 24/7 at 888-959-0068.
The Mission of Modern Chiropractic Care
Chiropractors stand in the line of a long, even ancient, tradition; but it was not until recent times that the medical value of their services began to be more and more recognized. By detailed knowledge of the connections among the nervous, muscular, and skeletal systems and careful training in making manual adjustments to bring these systems back into full harmony, chiropractors help alleviation chronic pain.
Chiropractors also give their patients valuable advice on proper nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management techniques, and more. And they must be skilled at examining their clients' medical records, diagnosing medical conditions, and using X-ray and MRI machinery. As a chiropractor, you take a more "holistic" approach to healing, but you also recognize your limitations and know when to refer a patient to a physician or surgeon, and which one to refer him/her to.
But despite the valuable services provided by modern chiropractic care and the long and expensive process of getting the training and the license necessary to begin chiropractic practice in California, it is all too easy for a single complaint to threaten to end your career.
It is not at all uncommon for chiropractors to be accused of negligence or incompetence in the treatment they deliver or of failing to refer a patient to a physician when that would have been appropriate. And faulty record keeping, insurance fraud, or substance abuse charges are also common. At California License Attorney, we understand how easy it is for a false or exaggerated complaint to be filed and also how easy it is for even the best chiropractors to make a mistake.
Regardless of the details of the scenario, we are not here to judge you but here to help. We have the legal expertise necessary to win you the best possible outcome to the board investigation or administrative hearing. We stand ready to put those tools to work for you.
The Mission of the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners
The California Board of Chiropractic Examiners exists for the sake of the public. Their stated mission is to protect the health and safety of chiropractic patients by controlling licensing and taking disciplinary actions to enforce high standards in the industry.
To accomplish that end, the board's online Disciplinary Guidelines and Model Disciplinary Orders are recommended to the use of administrative law judges (ALJs) presiding over hearings that look into alleged violations by professional chiropractors.
Any violation of the Chiropractic Initiative Act, the California Business and Professions Code, California Code of Regulations, Health & Safety Code, or other relevant laws and regulations can result in board disciplinary measures.
Possible forms of professional discipline include:
- License Revocation. This is the loss of your license for an indefinite period and is the harshest form of discipline.
- License Suspension. This is the loss of your license for a specified period of time.
- Interim Suspension. An interim suspension prevents you from continuing your practice during the investigation.
- License Probation. If you win a stay of revocation and probation, you can continue your practice as long as you adhere to the probationary conditions.
- Letter of Reprimand. While a letter of reprimand merely warns you not to repeat or continue the alleged offense, it goes on public record at the board's website.
- Citation and Fine. While considered an "alternative to discipline," a citation goes on your public record (viewable by potential clients and employers) and the fine can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
The specific discipline issued depends on the nature of the violation and on any aggravating or mitigating factors presented at/before the administrative hearing. The board classifies all violations into four general categories:
- Category I contains "relatively minor" violations. Examples are failing to notify the board of a change of business address, failing to properly post your license, and failing to provide patients with their treatment records upon request. As with all categories of offenses, the maximum penalty is license revocation. For Category I violations, the minimum penalty is one to two years of probation.
- Category II is for somewhat more serious offenses, which demonstrate a greater disregard for law, ethics, or public safety. Examples include: advertising to treat sexual disorders, not maintaining patient confidentiality, and failing to appear for your administrative hearing for another offense. The minimum penalty is 3 years probation.
- Category III violations are rather serious indeed. Examples include: practicing outside of your expertise and license, sexual relations with a patient, gross negligence, excessive treatment, drug/alcohol abuse, criminal convictions for crimes of "moral turpitude," and failing to refer a patient to the appropriate healthcare provider when you should have. The minimum discipline is 30 days suspension followed by 5 years of probation.
- Category IV violations are the most serious of all, and they always result in license revocation. There simply is no other disciplinary alternative available. They do not differ from Category III offenses on a basic level, covering many of the same offenses, but they represent more egregious cases nonetheless.
California License Attorney can assist you in challenging any accusation, regardless of the category of offense and the details of the case. First of all, we can expose weak evidence and suspect testimony for what it is. And we can then call in our own expert witnesses and collect exculpatory evidence in your favor. This can often get a case dropped without any need to go to a hearing, or it can win a dismissal at the hearing.
But even where that is not possible, we can still present mitigating evidence that can get your penalty reduced. The judge presiding over your hearing will have to decide on the maximum, minimum, or an intermediate level of discipline, if you are not acquitted. Factors he/she will consider in making this decision include:
- Whether any actual harm was done to a patient or to the general public.
- What harm potentially could have resulted from the violation.
- Whether you have any previous discipline on your professional record.
- Whether you are currently facing one or several complaints.
- The nature and severity of the violation.
- Evidence of your having received rehabilitation (for substance abuse, for example).
- If a criminal conviction took place years ago, and if you complied with the court-ordered probation terms.
- Whether or not you obtained any financial gain from the violation.
- Whether the violation was intentional or accidental.
- What level of negligence or incompetence, if any, the violation indicates.
We understand how to present the evidence that will reduce your professional discipline to as little as possible. We know the peculiar rules of evidence and the complexities of the process at the hearings, and we can win you the best settlement or ruling legally obtainable.
How the Board Handles Complaints
At this point, we want to back up and look at how complaints are first taken in and how they work in the early stages of an investigation since many of our clients call us long before an administrative hearing is looming.
And in fact you do well to contact us as early in the process as possible — optimally, the very moment you receive a notice of investigation from the board. The earlier you act, the better your chances of a favorable outcome.
When a former patient, the family member of a patient, or someone else takes issue with your practice, they can easily submit a written or online complaint to the Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Once received, the board's enforcement unit will first ensure the complaint is relevant to the board's jurisdiction. If so, it will rank complaints in order of priority.
When serious violations like sexual abuse, negligence, or fraud are alleged, these get top priority and are quickly sent to the investigation unit. Less egregious offenses are put on "the back burner," but you will eventually hear from the board about them. Billing disputes, however, are not within the board's jurisdiction.
Next, the board sends you a notice of the complaint having been filed against you and of the investigation. This is the time to contact us. Do not talk to investigators without first consulting a good license defense lawyer.
If an interim suspension is issued, our first order of business will be to fight it since investigations can take months or even years and you can't afford to close your practice for that length of time waiting for the board's decision.
Many times, the board will find complaints are unsubstantiated and drop them on their own. They may also drop the allegation when they encounter stiff opposition from a skilled defense lawyer. But if they feel the complaint is substantiated, they will issue a formal accusation, listing the allegations against you.
We can often challenge the accusation successfully or reach a favorable stipulated settlement before any hearing. And knowing that you have a lawyer with a record of winning such hearings is likely to bring the board to the negotiation table, at the least.
If we proceed to a hearing, it is not always necessary for you to attend personally, but you have to at least send your lawyer. To simply no-show will almost certainly result in a license revocation. We will issue a notice of defense, prepare for the legal battle at the hearing, and win you the best possible outcome.
If you win the hearing, that is the end of it. Nothing will go on your record. If you cannot avoid some form of discipline, we can usually still win you probation so you can continue your practice. We can also work to reduce the conditions of probation and the length of the probation to the minimum. This is where presentation of mitigating evidence comes into play.
The board will also seek to recover all the costs of the investigation and of any probation monitoring. If you cannot pay this amount upfront, we can negotiate for a workable, scheduled payment plan.
At every step of the way and in every situation, we at California License Attorney will guide you through the process, helping to dispel the confusion. We will fight in your best interests from day one and keep you informed of every new development in your case.
Contact Us Today for Assistance
At California License Attorney, our team of highly skilled chiropractic license defense lawyers stands ready to assist you at a moment's notice. We know how to build you a solid defense. We know how to win a dismissal wherever possible and how to negotiate effectively for a lesser form of professional discipline when that is the best option.
We will always work with your best interests in mind and will give you the full benefit of our legal knowledge and experience.
For a free consultation, contact us anytime 24/7/365 by calling us at 888-959-0068.