By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
If you are a massage therapist or other health care professional whose license has been recently revoked or suspended, there may still be hope. Many massage therapists, when confronted with an investigation against their license, do not fight the charges. Sometimes they decide it is cheaper and easier just to give up their license. Either choice is likely to be a big mistake.
A charge or complaint can be filed causing an investigation to be opened against a massage therapist, often without any supporting evidence. If challenged and defended by an attorney with knowledge and experience in such matters, these investigations may often be dismissed with no disciplinary action against the massage therapist’s license.
Many Massage Therapists Do Not Defend Themselves When Confronted with Charges.
Based on what I have seen at Board of Massage Therapy meetings, very few massage therapists hire an attorney to defend them when confronted with an investigation or charges. This may be because they lack the financial resources or because they underestimate the harm that will be caused to their personal or professional reputations. Often, long after the fact, when it is too late to do anything about it, they realize that they have made a big mistake.
Regardless, in my personal opinion and experience:
1. Few massage therapists return their election of rights (EOR) forms on time and therefore, a default is entered against them.
2. Few massage therapists return their election of rights (EOR) forms to state they are contesting the facts and desire a formal hearing to contest the charges against them.
3. Few massage therapists even bother to show up at informal hearings involving their licenses.
4. When they do show up for the hearing, they show up at a hearing with a spouse or friend to represent them instead of an experienced attorney familiar with such matters (Q: If you needed brain surgery, would you have it performed by a spouse or friend instead of an experienced neurosurgeon?)
5. If they do retain an attorney to advise and represent them, they either go with the cheapest one they can find or go with one who has no experience at all before the Board of Massage Therapy. (Q: If you needed brain surgery, would you pay your family practice physician to perform it?)
Additional Consequences of Discipline on Your Massage Therapy License.
There are many additional adverse consequences that you will experience if you receive discipline on (especially revocation of) your massage therapy license. First and foremost, this is on your record forever; it never comes off and cannot be expunged. Additionally, it will be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) and available to any state licensing board. This means any other professional licenses you may have in the same state, or any licenses you have in other states. These other licensing bodies will then open a separate investigation against you. It will be reported to national certification organizations and your national certification will be revoked. It will be reported to the Office of the Inspector General and action will be taken to exclude you from the Medicare program and this will also lead to exclusion (debarment) from all federal employment and contracting opportunities.
Remember, a voluntary relinquishment of your licensed once you are under investigation is treated the same as a disciplinary revocation of your license.
Tips to Remember:
1. If you have insurance, contact your insurance company as it may very well provide legal defense coverage for such matters.
2. Do not talk to an investigator or make any statements at all, oral or in writing, until you have consulted with a good attorney.
3. Immediately contact an experienced health lawyer who represents those in your profession.
4. Be sure to timely request a formal hearing, sending in your request (election of rights) by at least two (2) different methods, to be received by the Department of Health attorney prior to the due date, and obtaining a receipt for it.
5. If you waive your right to a formal hearing and agree to accept an informal hearing, you are admitting that the facts alleged against you are true; this is the same as pleading guilty. Don’t do this.
Conclusion: Defend Your Reputation and Your License.
In conclusion, take precautions and defend your professional livelihood, your professional reputation and your professional license before it’s too late!
Without your license, you will no longer have an income. Why wouldn’t you take precautions and defend yourself as much as possible if this happened? To learn more on how to protect your license and how The Health Law Firm can assist you, click here to read one of my prior blogs.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late; Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Licensing Matters Early.
Do not wait until action has been taken against you to consult with an experienced attorney in these matters. Few cases are won on appeal. It is much easier to win your case when there is proper time to prepare and you have requested a formal hearing so that you may actually dispute the facts being alleged against you.
The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing massage therapists in investigations and at Florida Board of Massage Therapy hearings. Call now or visit our website www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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