If you are a state-licensed podiatrist and are facing an investigation or a formal accusation by the California Board of Podiatric Medicine, it is critical that you move quickly to counter the complaint registered against you. Even a minor violation can put a "black mark" on your record, and many allegations have the potential to result in a suspension or revocation of your podiatrist license.
At California License Attorney, we have the legal expertise and deep-rooted experience it takes to effectively fight for your license and your future career. We are always standing by 24/7 to respond to your call for help. Contact us today at 888-959-0068 for a free, no-obligation consultation, and we will help you better understand the administrative process and what are your best options going forward.
The Crucial Roles of Modern Podiatrists
We rely on our feet to bear our body's weight and carry us through all of the day's activities, barely ever giving a thought to how complex and amazing feet really are — until a problem arises, and then a podiatrist, or "foot doctor," becomes an invaluable asset.
As a podiatrist, you invested years of intense training and a small fortune in preparing for your practice and obtaining you California podiatrist license. And your highly specialized skills are often called upon in hospital, private practice, military base, and other environments.
You are called upon to perform a wide range of surgical procedures, administer anesthesia, treat wounds, sprains, arthritis, and various foot diseases. And the increased incidence of diabetes and obesity, combined with a rapidly aging U.S. population, puts your services in increasingly high demand.
But in spite of the valuable roles that modern podiatrists fill and the long, difficult process of obtaining a podiatric license in California, it is very easy for your license to become at risk. One mistake or one false or exaggerated complaint, and your career is suddenly on the line.
At California License Attorney, we are here to come to your aid with top-tier license defense services, regardless of what type of complaint you face, what type of disciplinary action you are fighting, or where you are presently in the process.
The Mission of the California Board of Podiatric Medicine
The first thing to realize about the California Board of Podiatric Medicine is that they exist not to assist podiatrists but to protect patients of podiatrists and the general public. It is their stated mission to restrict licensing and administer various forms of professional discipline in order to achieve the vision of "safe and competent foot and ankle care" for all Californians.
Their concern is only with preventing patients from suffering harm and with maintaining high standards of care in the podiatric industry. That is, of course, a noble goal — one that you as a podiatrist no doubt share.
But without a good lawyer fighting "in your corner," the tendency of the board may be to overlook important exculpatory and mitigating evidence in your favor and to believe every complaint just to "play it safe" with the public. But that isn't fair to you, and it can lead to innocent practitioners being disciplined or overly harsh forms of discipline being administered.
We stand in the gap and present your side of the story. We know how to talk to and negotiate with the board and its investigators to secure the best possible outcome to your case.
There are a multitude of possible complaints that can be filed against you with the board that can lead to discipline. Here are some of the most common allegations:
- Having a past misdemeanor or felony conviction that "substantially relates to" your ability to safely and professionally conduct your practice.
- Insurance fraud or other forms of fraudulent activity.
- Negligence, gross negligence, or incompetence in the performance of your duties.
- Patient abandonment.
- Failure to refer a patient to another physician, when appropriate.
- Practicing without a license.
- Allowing unlicensed assistants to work under you.
- Obtaining a podiatric license by fraud.
- Unprofessional conduct.
- Falsifying records or failing to keep adequate records.
- Drug/alcohol addiction, especially if the substance abuse took place while on the job or treating a patient.
For a fuller list of possible allegations and disciplinary actions, see the online Podiatric Medicine Manual of Disciplinary Guidelines.
The Board of Podiatric Medicine will consider the nature and severity of the allegation against you. They will also take into account aggravating and mitigating evidence, your past professional record, whether a patient actually suffered harm, what harm potentially could have occurred, and numerous other factors in deciding on what disciplinary action (if any) to take.
Most investigations do not lead to a formal accusation (statement of issues) and an administrative hearing. And even when they do, it is often possible to avoid any discipline whatsoever. When discipline cannot be avoided entirely, it is often possible to get it reduced and to help you retain your license.
The lower forms of board discipline include citation and fine and public reprimand. These still go on your record and can affect your ability to gain patients or get hired by a new employer down the road, so even this is worth fighting.
The most severe discipline is a license revocation, which is the indefinite loss of your right to practice podiatry in California. A suspension is the loss of your license for a specified period of time.
A stay of revocation and probation is a way to keep your license even when the board will not drop the charges or forego disciplinary actions on a relatively major offense. We can fight for a stay and probation, for a shorter probationary term, and for less restrictive probation conditions.
Time Limits on Defending Yourself
There is a need to act quickly when served a notice of investigation or a statement of issues. When served a citation or formal accusation, you have only 15 days (from the order's mailing date) to file a notice of defense.
As even a citation will hurt your professional record, you should not just let is slip by without a fight. In many cases, the fine can be reduced even when the citation cannot be removed. And a stipulated settlement for a citation or other board action may result in a lesser form of discipline or even keeping the matter private.
Note that any stipulated agreement or ruling of an administrative law judge (ALJ) overseeing your hearing must be reviewed by the board to be final. But even a "final" decision can be appealed. But again, you must act within a prescribed time limit (30 days) to make the appeal.
It is not at all uncommon for those holding a California podiatrist license to be charged with a criminal offense. A complaint can lead to an investigation and a police sting operation. Or, the arrest and criminal charge may occur separately from any complaint.
Business and Professions Code Section 490 means that the California Board of Podiatric Medicine can take disciplinary measures against you based on past criminal convictions if they are "substantially" related to the duties or qualifications of a podiatrist.
Even if you gain a plea deal in your trial that allows you to eventually get the charges dropped, pending completion of your probation, you will have entered a "guilty" or "no contendere" plea, which will count as a "conviction" in the eyes of the board.
Examples of crimes that will or might result in your license being suspended, revoked, or put on license probation include the following:
- Simple possession of a controlled substance (HS 11350)
- Possession for sale of a controlled substance (HS 11351)
- DUI or DUID (VC 23152)
- Domestic violence (PC 243e, PC 273.5)
- Sexual battery (PC 243.4)
- Insurance fraud (PC 550)
- Petty theft (PC 484) or grand theft (PC 487)
The Board of Podiatric Medicine may ask for the judge in your criminal case to put restrictions on your practice of medicine as part of the sentence under California Penal Code Section 23. Here are three possible scenarios:
- The board may request that your license be revoked, suspended, or put on probation as a condition of sentencing. We can argue in court in your behalf and attempt to overturn any such order by the board.
- The board my attempt to make restrictions being placed on your podiatrist license a condition of even being granted bail, for fear you will commit an act unsafe to your patients if let out of jail while still holding the license. We can also take measures to oppose this order.
- The board may attempt to impose an interim suspension that takes effect immediately and continues until the conclusion of your criminal trial. This could be disastrous if your trial continues for months or years on end. Our skilled team of license defense lawyers know how to oppose interim suspensions and fight to allow you to continue your practice when no conviction or adverse administrative hearing ruling has yet even taken place.
If the board files a PC 23 order with the court, we can assist you in filing a written response in opposition to this motion. It is possible the presiding judge will hold a special hearing on whether or not to grant the board's request for restrictions on your license. If so, this is yet another arena in which you will need the services of a skilled podiatrist license defense attorney.
Overcoming License Denials
Under Business and Professions Code Section 480, the California Board of Podiatric Medicine may deny an application for a podiatric license. These denials are not all that uncommon and can occur for a great number of different reasons.
Most commonly, a denial occurs because of a past criminal offense on your record, but it can also occur because of issues that arose during your training and educational preparations or because of being under professional discipline by the licensing board of another U.S. state.
You should not simply despair and give up on getting your license approved. You worked too hard for too long to do that. And you have the right to appeal the board's decision to deny your license application.
We at California License Attorney know how to gather the necessary documentation and negotiate with the board to get denied licenses ultimately approved. We have accomplished this many times before for past clients, so there is no need to think it a "near-impossible" outcome.
Getting Your License Reinstated
The worst-case scenario is a license revocation. Yet, even here, it is possible for you to prepare ahead of time and, with the help of a license defense lawyer, submit a petition for reinstatement of your podiatric license.
This will involve an admission of responsibility in the matter that led to the revocation and the submission of evidence or rehabilitation. The burden of proof is on the applicant to show he/she is now fit to practice podiatry in California. We have deep experience in mustering the right kind and quantity of such evidence and can help you maximize your chances of a reinstatement in as little time as possible.
Contact Us Today for Help
At California License Attorney, we stand ready to assist you no matter what type of action you are facing against your podiatrist license and regardless of the details of your case.
Our team of expert license defense lawyers have successfully handled numerous cases just like yours in the past, and we can do the same for you.
If your license and your livelihood are at risk, you should act as soon as possible. The earlier you take action, the better your chances of a favorable outcome.
To learn more or for a free consultation on the details of your case, contact us 24/7/365 by calling 888-959-0068.