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Professional Discipline | Lawyers/Attorneys

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Professional Discipline2021-09-28T15:28:27+00:00

Professional Discipline and Professional Licensing | Lawyers & Attorneys

An allegation of professional or ethical misconduct can be a scary and potentially career ending experience. You have dedicated yourself to your profession and now an accusation threatens your competence, integrity and livelihood. Given the seriousness of these issues, it is best to have a knowledgeable and experienced advocate who can guide you through the grievance process and protect you and your career. It is crucial that you contact an attorney immediately after an allegation of misconduct is made.

Frequently Asked Questions about Professional Discipline and Professional Licensing

Our team of attorneys and lawyers provide answers to some important questions below.

Who investigates and prosecutes professional misconduct in New York?2020-07-09T18:33:21+00:00

The New York State Department of Health, Office of Professional Medical Conduct (“OPMC” for short), is responsible for investigating complaints against and disciplining doctors, physician’s assistants, and unlicensed and licensed medical residents.

The New York State Department of Education, Office of Professional Discipline (“OPD” for short), is responsible for investigating and disciplining health care professionals such as dentists, mental health practitioners, nurses, optometrists, pharmacists, podiatrists, psychologists, veterinarians, acupuncturists, applied behavioral analysts, athletic trainers, audiologists, chiropractors, clinical laboratory technicians, dietitians and nutritionists, massage therapists, medical physicists, midwives, occupational therapists, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, social workers, and speech-language pathologists.

A professional may also be investigated and prosecuted in certain circumstances by the local or state law enforcement such as a District Attorney, the New York State Attorney General’s Office, or New York State Justice Center.

 

How do disciplinary investigations or actions arise?2020-07-09T18:32:47+00:00

An investigation often arises when OPMC or OPD receives a complaint. Complaints may be submitted by current or former patients, current or former clients, your employer, or even a colleague. In fact, professionals have an affirmative duty to report colleagues who reasonably appear to be guilty of professional misconduct. A licensed professional’s willful violation of his or her duty to report a colleagues’ wrongdoing is itself misconduct.

What constitutes professional misconduct?2020-07-09T18:30:01+00:00

Professional misconduct includes but may not be limited to:

  • Engaging in acts of gross incompetence or gross negligence on a single occasion, or negligence or incompetence on more than one occasion.
  • Permitting or aiding an unlicensed person to perform activities requiring a license.
  • Refusing a client or patient service because of race, creed, color, or national origin.
  • Practicing beyond the scope of the profession.
  • Releasing confidential information without authorization.
  • Being convicted of a crime.
  • Failing to return or provide copies of records upon request.
  • Being sexually or physically abusive.
  • Abandoning or neglecting a patient in need of immediate care.
  • Performing unnecessary work or unauthorized services.
  • Practicing under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

Physicians and physician’s assistants are subject to additional categories of misconduct including:

  • Willfully harassing, abusing or intimidating a patient either physically or verbally.
  • Failing to maintain a record of each patient which accurately reflects the evaluation and treatment of the patient.
  • Guaranteeing that satisfaction or a cure will result from the performance of professional services.
  • Ordering excessive tests, treatment, or use of treatment facilities not warranted by the patient’s condition.
  • Issuing prescriptions for drugs and devices which do not contain the date written, the prescriber’s name, address, telephone number, profession and registration number, the patient’s name, address and age, the name, strength and quantity of the prescribed drug or device, and the directions for use by the patient.
  • Failing to use scientifically accepted infection prevention techniques appropriate to each profession for the cleaning and sterilization or disinfection of instruments, devices, materials, and work surfaces.

Negligence can be a broad term used to encompass acts such as boundary violations or relationships with patients or clients.

What should I do if I get a call or letter about professional misconduct?2020-07-09T18:29:21+00:00

First, you should always open each letter or email communication received from a disciplinary agency. Ignoring communications can be considered misconduct in and of itself and failing to respond to the communication could result in a default judgment against you. Most importantly however, if you are contacted by an investigator, you should contact an attorney and obtain counsel as soon as possible. Never speak with an investigator without counsel present. You may think, in the spirit of cooperation, speaking to an investigator early on may bring a quick closure, but in most instances, that is simply not true. It is extremely important that any contact with an investigator from OPD or OPMC be carefully planned, otherwise you may create additional hurdles that will need to be overcome in the future. A person may fear that appearing with an attorney may make them seem more guilty, but again, this is simply not true and especially in this area of the law, where it is necessary to protect your career, license, and livelihood.

What are the penalties that can be imposed?2020-07-09T18:28:58+00:00

Every matter has a unique set of facts that make every resolution different. Your attorney may try and negotiate a mutually agreeable resolution before the need for any formal hearing.

Potential penalties can include agreeing to attend a remedial program, such as an ethics course or professionalism course, censure which is a nonpublic official record of disapproval, reprimand which is a public letter of formal discipline, fines (up to $10,000 for each violation), probation, agreeing to attend substance abuse treatment, and in the most serious cases, suspension or revocation of your license.

What happens at a professional misconduct hearing?2020-07-09T18:28:27+00:00

A professional misconduct hearing is much like a trial, where witnesses will be called and questioned, cross-examination of the witnesses occurs, subpoenas can be issued, and evidence will be presented. An Administrative Hearing Officer, who is an attorney admitted to practice in New York will oversee the hearing, ruling on any motions, procedures, and legal objections. The matter will ultimately be decided by the hearing panel which consists of two members of the involved profession and one public member. An attorney from either the State Department of Education for OPD or State Department of Health for OPMC will serve as the prosecutor. The hearing panel ultimately issues a written report including findings of fact, a determination of guilt or non-guilty on each charge, and a recommendation of the penalty to be imposed. For a hearing panel to make a determination of guilty, at least two of the voting members must vote for that determination supported by a preponderance of the evidence.

If I have been convicted of a crime, can I still apply for a license?2020-07-09T18:28:01+00:00

Yes. Even if you have made mistakes in the past, it may still be possible for you to obtain a professional license in New York. These decisions are often made on a case by case basis. An attorney can help you through the application process and strategize how to best address your past to give you the best chance of obtaining licensure. Depending on the age of any prior convictions, it may be possible to have your prior criminal record sealed.

Must I disclose a criminal conviction or prior misconduct when I apply for a professional license in New York?2020-09-18T16:19:44+00:00

When you apply for a license or to renew a license, you will be required to answer questions regarding criminal convictions, pending criminal charges, prior professional discipline, or currently pending professional discipline. It is important to be honest. If you are not sure whether something should be disclosed, you should speak with an attorney. You do not have to disclose youthful offender offenses. If you apply for and are granted a sealing order you may also able to deny such convictions.

Must I disclose to another state that I have been subject to professional discipline in New York?2020-07-09T18:26:59+00:00

The question of past professional discipline may arise on job applications or in applications for a professional license in another state. In some states, if you have been subject to professional discipline or a crime in another state you must self-disclose this information proactively to that licensing body. Whether you have a duty to self-disclose information regarding professional discipline depends on the State(s) in which you are licensed and their particular rules. Additionally, the duty to self-disclose will depend on the circumstances of your unique matter. To ensure that you do not find yourself facing further professional discipline for an untruthful answer, you should always check with an attorney if you have a question about your duty to self-disclose.

LaMarche Safranko Law Testimonials

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Vicki Testimonial Transcript
Well, I met George in 2014. My son was arrested for a criminal offense, and George—he has this ability, it’s just who he is. He’s genuinely empathetic and he’s very compassionate and he has the ability to just make you feel safe. You know? I just always felt I was in great hands and my son was in good hands and that we would have a good outcome of our situation and we always have. And he’s brilliant. He’s a brilliant lawyer. He’s very skilled and very creative. He has excellent rapport with all the judges and DAs and officials, and he’s always found a rehabilitative outcome for my son which I genuinely appreciate.

Laurie Testimonial Transcript
George was referred to me by my estate attorney. They go way back and it was a great referral, I don’t think I could have done any better, it was a very good match for me. Something that was really really instrumental in the whole thing was George keeping us up-to-date on what was going on and very much included. I was invited to be at all the depositions if I wanted to be and he gave me all the written depositions to read through, so I was always up-to-date on what was going on and I felt like a part of the process. I would definitely recommend George to other people. In fact, about 2 weeks ago I did. A friend of mine was in a pedestrian car accident, she was the pedestrian and is in pretty rough shape, and he was the first person I thought of so I actually asked him if it would be in his purview and he said yes. And I know that she’s very happy with him so far.

Jules Testimonial Transcript
What brought me to the firm was a personal incident where Andrew was recommended to me very highly by a family friend who’s also an attorney, and Andrew represented me to great satisfaction in that case. What impressed me the most about Andrew was his direct straightforward approach, and he has this incredible way of setting you at ease and yet telling you the good and the bad of a situation. I felt that he was very much a straight shooter and lived up to the reputation that preceded him. I would recommend them and Andrew Safranko to anybody in the world. They’re just that class of a group of people.

Chuck Testimonial Transcript
Well, I came to LaMarche Safranko Law because I knew Andy was here and he’s helped me in the past and I just feel so comfortable coming to him because you know you’re going to get the best outcome that you can get in a criminal law field. He’s done such a fabulous job for me and I’ve seen what he does for me, so I’m sure he’ll do the same—put out the same effort and energy and zeal it takes to win their case like he has mine. I would feel very comfortable recommending him.

“The staff at LaMarche Safranko Law took care of  whatever I needed, it was just fabulous. It was top shelf, if I called, I got George. If he was in a meeting, they left him a message. He called me right back after the meeting. Everybody was very courteous and very nice there. If I left a voicemail, everybody got back to me quickly. The level of service  was very, very good and I would Highly recommend them.”

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A personal injury client from Cohoes, NY

“My family and I cannot thank George and his staff enough for all of the support and guidance they have given us over the past six months. Anyone who has ever suffered a personal injury knows how difficult they are to overcome, but I’m glad we had such an intelligent and hardworking attorney on our side so I could focus on my recovery rather than on the details of the case….

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A personal injury client from Waterford, NY

“Dear Andrew and George,

I cannot thank you enough for your hard work, diligence, and selfless manner that you put towards my legal difficulties in Colonie. From the first moment I met you, you helped reassure me that things were going to turn out in a more favorable manner than I originally thought. Clearly, the final result of my court case displays the quality of time and work that you put into this….

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A client from Colonie, NY

“I am an attorney who found himself in the middle of a serious, personal legal matter that compromised not only my personal life but my professional life as well. I immediately contacted Andrew (Andy) Safranko, Esq. Andy worked tirelessly and extremely hard to bring my legal situation to a very favorable resolution. In so doing, Andy not only saved certain aspects of my personal and professional life

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Anonymous Attorney from Albany, NY

“Dear Mr. Safranko,

Thank You so much for answering my question, and so expediently!

The dedication, respect, and consideration with which you treat your clients, current and past, is remarkable. It is why I reached out to you when searching in my time of need, and why I would highly recommend…

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A client from Albany, NY

“Dear George, Andy and Staff,

Thank you all for your kindness and all your help in getting back to my wellbeing and life.  I could not have done it without you all.  Everything is going so well again.  I recommend you highly. Thanks Again!”

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A client from Troy, NY

“Throughout the attorney client relationship regarding my personal injury lawsuit, George and his staff continually exhibited tremendous amounts of legal knowledge, skill, and a vast amount of expert resources that ultimately resulted in a final judgment in my favor.  George was there every step of the way to explain where we stood and what to expect next and there was never a need to question his professional judgment…

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A client from Troy, NY

“Dear Andy,

Thank you so much for everything you have done for our son over the last three years.  This has been a very challenging time for our family and the knowledge that our son has an attorney as capable and amazing as you are has given us peace of mind!

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Parents of a client from Cropseyville, NY

“I cannot thank George E. LaMarche lll and his team for the excellent legal work they provided for my son, and in extension, our entire family. His experience, knowledge of the law, networking ability and communication is second to none. In our case, our son was wrongly accused by a small town police officer and charged with 5 tickets…

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A client from Altamont, NY

“I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your excellent representation on my recent matter. I have worked with lawyers, and in law firms much of my professional life, but I have never encountered the rare mix of skill, integrity and humanity in one individual—you….

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A client from Rensselaer, NY

“I can honestly say that the best decision I’ve ever made was retaining George LaMarche as my attorney. I was in a situation where everything wasat risk; my career, livelihood, and the ability to provide for my family. In desperation, I contacted over a dozen attorneys. The majority of the lawyers I spoke with promised results without seeing paperwork or knowing valuable facts….

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A client from Albany, NY

“No one likes to be in a bad situation, but if you need a lawyer George is your man. Not only does he point you in the right direction he offers good advice for your future. As much as we bring him business he does not encourage that next time anticipation….

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A client from Albany, NY

“I wanted to express my deepest appreciation to Mr. Andrew Safranko for the exceptional job he did in regards to my legal representation. Mr. Safranko displayed the utmost in professionalism and discretion during the entire court process, and took the time to explain each and every step….

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A client from Schenectady, NY

“The arrest of my husband in 2008 was an extremely difficult and emotional time for our family. The arrest turned our lives upside down. It was sudden and unexpected and had tragic emotional as well as financial consequences. I had no idea what to do under the circumstances….

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A client from Upstate New York
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