Pennsylvania License Defense Blog

7 lifestyle choices that can help you protect your livelihood

Nursing can be rewarding, but it can also be hard, draining work. Nurses who work overnights or long, 12-hour shifts often struggle to maintain their energy, and they risk real trouble if they start making drowsy mistakes or fall asleep on the job.

Nurses and hospitals have known about the dangers associated with long shifts and overnights for ages. They have been well-documented, and the fatigue that nurses suffer on these shifts can lead to lapses in memory and attention, poor problem-solving, poor judgment and the types of mistakes that may lead to a “letter of concern” from the PHMP.

Crackdown on opioid crisis may reach medical professionals

In some respect, doctors, pharmacists, and certain other medical professionals have the legal authority to do what ordinary Philadelphia residents do not. That is, they may legally prescribe and help dispense federally controlled substances. When people outside the medical industry engage in this behavior, they may face allegations of federal or state drug crimes, which could land them in prison for years if not decades. However, in the wake of the opioid crisis, authorities are paying closer attention to how doctors and others are using, or abusing, their special privileges.

For instance, federal authorities can charge a doctor with a violation of the drug trafficking laws of the United States if they believe the doctor was prescribing controlled substances, like opioids, to patients without a legitimate medical reason for doing so. Oftentimes, prosecutors will accuse doctors of conspiring to provide these drugs to patients knowing full well that the patients intend to collect them and then sell them on the streets. Some doctors and medical professionals in the area, including at least one nurse practitioner in Pennsylvania, have found themselves facing federal charges of late that are similar to the ones described above.

DUI defense for licensed professionals

A DUI arrest can be a big problem for a licensed professional in Pennsylvania. Not only can their arrest threaten certain rights and privileges that they enjoy under the laws of the state, but it can also threaten their capacity to retain their license to do their job. Defending a DUI charge can cost more than money: if it is not successfully done, it can cost a person their career.

Certain criminal offenses and charges must be reported to licensing boards in Pennsylvania and can cause individuals' practicing rights to come under review. A DUI charge may force a person to not only appear in court to challenge their legal charges but also to defend their right to retain their medical license, nursing credentials, or other professional qualifications. Working through the defense of a DUI and the preservation of one's license can take time and legal knowledge that not all licensed professionals possess.

Crimes of moral turpitude threaten professional licenses

Pennsylvania-based medical professionals can face a variety of penalties for their alleged involvement in criminal conduct. As readers of this Philadelphia professional license defense firm's blog know, doctors, nurses, and others who need licenses to work in the medical field can have their professional credentials revoked if they are found to be involved in different criminal ventures. A recent article that identified some Pennsylvania medical professionals who have suffered suspensions and other consequences to their professional licenses notes that some had pleaded guilty to crimes of moral turpitude.

Moral turpitude is a general criminal concept. It can mean engaging in activity that is outside of the standards expected for a particular community. In the context of a licensed profession, engaging in criminal activity may be considered an activity that is far outside of the accepted standard.

Pennsylvania Licensed Attorney Discipline in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

My licensure defense practice includes representing attorneys facing disciplinary process in Pennsylvania. Attorneys licensed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court - whether practicing in Pennsylvania or not - are subject to discipline the same as other Pennsylvania licensees. Criminal conduct and egregious unethical conduct expose attorneys to prosecution for violating the Rules of Professional Conduct. Attorney discipline in Pennsylvania's attorney regulatory system is more complex that other licensees. The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is the court in the Supreme Court in which disciplinary actions are filed. The Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct govern the practice of law in the Commonwealth. These Rules set forth the minimum ethical standards for the practice of law and constitute a set of Rules that all attorneys must follow. These Rules were originally promulgated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on April 1, 1988.

Drug Possession, Disorderly Conduct, Crimes of Moral Turpitude... Commonwealth Court Speaks Up

Medical Marijuana

Protecting professional licenses from DUI convictions

A DUI can be a costly problem for any Philadelphia resident. A person facing such a charge may be forced to endure a long process of collecting evidence, preparing a defense, and fighting for their rights in court in order to overcome charges that threaten their driving privileges and even their freedom. A DUI conviction can change the way that a person approaches their everyday tasks, as it may be required of them to give up their ability to drive.

Medical professionals who are charged with DUI crimes can face even greater losses, though. While the loss of one's driving rights is significant, individuals who are licensed by the state of Pennsylvania in order to work in their chosen fields may be subject to professional sanctions and suspensions if they are convicted of drunk driving crimes. Offenses like DUIs and other criminal allegations can be reported to state licensing agencies and used as the basis for terminating medical professionals' rights to practice and perform their duties.

Licensure Applications -- Disclosing a Record -- Part 2 -- Evidence of Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Redemption

In my last blog I wrote about real estate applicant who failed to disclose on his Real Estate Commission application a criminal conviction. Upon discovery the Commission revoked his license and the Commonwealth Court approved of the action. Today's blog involves the exact opposite result for one of my physician clients. On October 14, 2014 Dr. Christopher Elder, a Texas licensed physician, submitted an application to Pennsylvania's Medical Board for a license to practice medicine and surgery. Unlike Hawes, Elder disclosed a 2010 federal conviction for aiding in abetting and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846. On April 2, 2015 the Pennsylvania Medical Board provisionally denied Elder's application. The Board maintained the Criminal History Record Information Act, 18 Pa. C.S. § 9124(c)(1) (CHIRA), authorized licensure denial because of Elder's felony conviction. The Board also denied licensure, maintaining Elder lacked good moral character and did not possess the requisite training and experience. Elder appealed the conditional denial of licensure. At the hearing before a the Hearing Officer Elder presented his credentials, training and experience, the facts of the criminal case, and character evidence. Consistent with prior Pennsylvania Supreme Court precedent, Elder maintained the criminal conviction was too remote for the Board to determine such affected his current ability to do his job lawfully. Elder's mitigating evidence established his minor role in the criminal case and his rehabilitation since release from prison. The Hearing Officer weighed Elder's witness' credibility and Elder's mitigating evidence. He ruled in Elder's favor, stating that while Elder's criminal conduct demonstrated moral turpitude at the time of its commission, Elder presented persuasive evidence of his rehabilitation and present moral fitness to practice medicine. A period of probation was required to allow Elder the ability to secure appropriate supplemental educational classes for competency.

Licensure Applications -- Disclosing a Record -- Part 1 -- The Cover Up is Worse than the Crime


Pharmacist licenses suspended for many reasons

The Pennsylvania Department of State regulates licensed professionals and provides reports on the types of discipline that those individuals receive from their specific licensing boards. As in other jurisdictions and states, pharmacists are required to hold professional licenses to practice and must renew their licenses periodically in order to stay current in their jobs. A variety of actions may cause them to have their licenses suspended. As a result, their options to work in their chosen field may be curtailed.

A review of a recent report from the Department of State identifies some of the reasons that pharmacists lose their licenses to suspension. For example, in one situation the licensing board found that a pharmacist allegedly engaged in grossly unprofessional conduct in the performance of his duties. In another, a pharmacist had their license suspended due to a mental illness or defect.

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