California Board of Chiropractic Examiners Disciplinary Actions
While California chiropractors are licensed and governed by the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners (“the Board”), the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) is the umbrella state agency which regulates the Board (and virtually all California licensing boards). When a licensed chiropractor is accused or suspected of violating the Board’s Rules and Regulations (16 California Code of Regulations, Division 4, §301 et seq.), the DCA will commence an investigation.
Within the DCA is the law enforcement arm known as the Division of Investigation (DOI), which conducts investigations of alleged violations of the Board’s Rules and Regulations. In most cases, the alleged violation reaches the DOI in the form of a consumer or professional complaint or as a report of misconduct or upon notice of a criminal conviction. When an investigation leads the DOI to refer the action for discipline, an Accusation will be filed against the chiropractor. This document may be thought of as a charging document that may (and will, if not defended) result in disciplinary action against the chiropractor.
If you are a licensed chiropractor and learn that you are being investigated by the DOI, you would be wise to contact a professional license defense lawyer immediately. You should not try to handle this alone. In fact, just as in a criminal case (although this is not a criminal matter), you are not obligated to talk to the Board about any potential disciplinary action. You will better protect your license by hiring an attorney and directing the Board to discuss any matters with your legal counsel. In most cases, an attorney experienced in these matters will be able to assess whether the DOI investigation requires a proactive defense. Indeed, in some cases, a professional license defense attorney can resolve a potential disciplinary action before the formal action is filed.
While not all DOI investigations result in disciplinary action, the cautious chiropractor should not hesitate to mount a defense even before any disciplinary action is filed. When and if the Board files formal disciplinary proceedings against you, you will be better prepared to defend your license and have a better chance of moderating any detriment to your license.
While minor violations of the Rules and Regulations may result in a Letter of Admonishment or a citation, usually with an assessment of fines, more serious violations will usually result in the filing of an Accusation. Note that citations are public record and for that reason the chiropractor should consider contesting the citation; a professional license defense attorney can help you in that endeavor. When an Accusation is filed, legal counsel is crucial.What Type of Conduct Typically Initiates an Investigation and Accusation?
- Conviction on a DUI or on drug charges.
- Conviction of other crimes considered “substantially related” the practice of chiropractic practice.
- Substance abuse.
- Fraud (for example, Medicare fraud, fraudulent billings to insurance).
- Gross negligence.
- Sexual Misconduct.
When an Accusation is filed against you, the Board imposes a deadline for you to respond. Your attorney can handle the response for you but due to the time constraints, you must consult with counsel right away. A hearing will be scheduled in which the Board will present its case and the chiropractor presents his or her evidence in defense. The evidence against you will be provided to you and your attorney before the hearing. Even if the Board’s evidence is strong, mitigating evidence presented by your defense lawyer can result in less serious penalties against you.
Under the Chiropractic Initiative Act, the Board is directed to consider certain factors in determining the penalties levied against the chiropractor. These factors include:
- Potential or actual harm to the public or to an individual consumer.
- Any prior discipline or warnings issued to the chiropractor.
- The extent of the violation(s).
- Mitigating evidence.
- Rehabilitation evidence.
- If the conduct involved a criminal conviction, the compliance of the chiropractor with the criminal sentence.
- The chiropractor’s criminal record.
- When the conduct occurred.
- Whether the conduct was intentional or negligent.
- Any financial benefit the chiropractor derived from the conduct.
Penalties can range from imposition of a probationary period, to suspension, and in the most serious of cases, revocation of the chiropractor’s license. A convincing defense argument on any one or more of the above-listed factors can make a difference in how the Board disciplines the chiropractor. For example, presenting strong mitigating evidence could convince the Board to impose probation, thereby permitting the chiropractor to continue practicing under certain conditions, rather than a suspension of the chiropractor’s license. Even in cases where the Board imposes penalties that threaten the chiropractor’s livelihood, such as suspension or revocation, the Board’s decision can be contested by filing a Petition for Reconsideration or a Writ of Mandamus. Even in many cases where the license was revoked, the chiropractor may petition for reinstatement of his or her license two years after the effective date of the revocation. In all scenarios, Orange County Professional license defense attorney William Weinberg offers his expertise and dedication to the defense of your license and career that you worked so hard to achieve.
Are you being investigated or has the Board initiated disciplinary action against you? Has the Board denied your chiropracted license for disciplinary reasons? Do you want to petition to reinstate your chiropractic license?Orange County Professional License Defense Attorney William Weinberg Can Help!
Contact Mr. Weinberg for a free consultation and review of your matter. He may be reached at his Irvine office by phoning (949) 474-8008 or by email at email@example.com.