Indiana Optometry License Defense Lawyer
Helping people improve and maintain their eyesight is very important in the realm of human health care for the general public. Helping optometrists retain their licenses in the face of discipline by the Indiana Optometry Board (Board), however, is the important work performed by an Indiana optometry license defense lawyer.
Obtaining your license to practice optometry was not easy. You had to meet rigorous educational requirements and then pass the Board’s examination. Even after you overcome these hurdles, you face a veritable minefield of professional requirements and prohibitions. If you fall short, you face the loss of your hard-earned license at the hands of the Board.
The Indianapolis optometrist lawyers from Keffer Hirschauer LLP understand how hard you worked to practice optometry and the significance of your license and reputation to your practice and your livelihood. If you have questions about qualifications for your optometry license or face allegations of professional conduct violations, we can help.
Why You Need an Indiana Optometry License Defense Lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP
As a licensed profession in Indiana (IN), optometry is regulated by state law and regulations and overseen by Indiana Board of Optometry and the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (PLA). Indiana Code article 25-24 establishes just some of the professional requirements you follow. They start with the basic process of obtaining your license, renewing it, and obtaining relevant continuing education.
These laws also apply outside of the period you’re licensed—even conduct from before you receive your license or after it has lapsed can violate the law. For example, you cannot open an office, announce that you will offer optometric services, or otherwise hold yourself out to be an optometrist before you are actually licensed by the Board or if your license is not current. Similarly, you may not have in your possession the appliances or instruments of optometry in order to offer services to customers when you are not licensed. As a result, if your license expires, continuing to offer services or even merely advertising optometry services violates the law and could have disciplinary consequences.
Given your investment of time and resources in your education and practice, you need Indiana optometry license defense lawyer experienced in optometry licensing and professional license defense matters. You’ll find that attorney at Keffer Hirschauer LLP.
The Basics of Optometrist Standards and Regulations Compliance
Indiana optometrists are bound by the laws and regulations specific to optometry as well as some governing a range of professions. Among the former, optometrists must follow Indiana Code article 25-24 and Indiana Administrative Code (IAC) title 852, which includes professional conduct standards. the professional conduct and standards of practice.
For example, 852 IAC 1-12-1 (Rule 12) regarding professional conduct and standards requires you to keep confidential the information you obtain or receive in the course of treatment. You are also required by regulation to provide a sincere and “reasonably complete” assessment of the patient’s condition—except when you reasonably determine that the information is or would be detrimental to the patient’s physical or mental health. A “reasonable” determination is a legal standard that often requires counsel to explain based on the particular facts involved.
Indiana law also has a common set of Health Professions Standards of Practice (Standards), Indiana Code chapter 25-1-9, that apply to several licensed healthcare professions. While some of the Standards overlap with regulations specific to optometrists, other requirements are found only in the standards for health professionals.
Total compliance with all relevant laws and regulations requires knowing what the laws and regulations are and what they mean. An Indiana optometry license defense lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP help you navigate these requirements both for licensing and for professional license defense.
Examples of Indiana Optometry License Violations
In addition to knowing the requirements for obtaining your license to practice optometry, you must also remain in compliance to keep your license. Some mandates are no surprise. The regulations specifically permit advertising through public media such as directories and radio or television advertising, but they prohibit false or fraudulent statements in advertising.
Some of the advertising regulations are quite specific. In the case of radio and television advertising, ads must be prerecorded and approved by you before being aired. You must keep on file a copy of the recording and transcript of the actual transmission for three years after the last broadcast.
Restrictions regarding advertising of fees you charge for various services get even more restrictive. Fees stated in radio or television ads must be honored for a period of ninety (90) days after broadcast. In print material, the length of time for the fee to be honored depends on the frequency of the publication.
Also not surprisingly, and any criminal conviction that directly bears on your competent practice of optometry may result in discipline and put your license at risk. For example, many optometrists accept Medicaid and Medicare patients. Conviction for a crime or receiving a civil penalty for fraudulent billing—especially a criminal conviction for Medicare/Medicaid fraud—could be a significant threat to your license.
Types of Complaints that Require Help from an Indiana Optometry License Defense Lawyer
Continuing professional competence, as defined by professional licensing law, is required to keep your optometry license. You are legally prohibited from continuing to practice if you are found by the Board to be professionally incompetent as a result of the following factors:
- Performing professional activities that you are not qualified to perform
- Not keeping up-to-date with theories or practices relating to optometry
- Becoming mentally or physically disabled
- Becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol
Board discipline is also a possible consequence for profession-related conduct, such as improperly prescribing medication or allowing your name or license to be used in connection with a person rendering services for which he or she is unqualified.
Many of the legal standards applicable to optometrists can be ambiguous. This can leave much room for interpretation as to what conduct constitutes a true violation. When facing licensure problems or a complaint before the Board, an IN optometrist attorney can help you understand the legal standards and create a strategy to help you move forward.
An Indiana Optometry License Defense Lawyer Explains the Disciplinary Process
The filing, investigation, and prosecution of complaints against licensed professionals in Indiana follows a certain process. First, anyone can file a complaint as long as it’s in writing and signed by the complainant. The Consumer Protection Division (Division) of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General receives the complaint and notifies the Board and the optometrist named in the complaint of the allegations. However, before taking further action, the Division allows 30 days for the Board, the complainant, and the optometrist to reach a settlement agreement.
If the parties do not reach a settlement in the 30-day period, the Division investigates the allegations. Based on the evidence gathered in the investigation, the director determines the evidence supports the allegations and, therefore, the optometrist should be subject to disciplinary action. The director reports that conclusion and recommendations to the attorney general, who then decides whether to prosecute the complaint before the Board.
While the attorney general has discretion as to whether to prosecute, the Board has the ability to require prosecution if it so desires, by unanimous vote. Complaints are prosecuted before the Board or its designee—usually an administrative law judge—in a hearing on the merits of the complaint.
Sanctions that May Be Imposed
When the Board or its designee determines from the hearing evidence that the allegations are true and warrant disciplinary action, several disciplinary sanctions are possible. These include:
- Optometry license revocation
- Optometry license suspension
- Written reprimand
- Fine of no more than $1,000
These penalties may be imposed alone or in together.
The most severe consequence, permanent revocation of your license, would most likely be reserved for very severe violations or repeated violations after prior discipline. Probation, on the other hand, is much less severe, although it may include conditions for remaining licensed during the period of probation. Probation conditions can include, for example, having to make regular reports to the Board, having only a limited license during the probationary period, or having to complete professional education under a preceptor.
When facing a professional licensing complaint, an optometrist is best equipped to beat the allegations when armed with an Indiana optometry license defense lawyer experienced in professional license defense and skilled in litigation strategies.
Call Keffer Hirschauer LLP for Your Indiana Optometry License Defense Lawyer
Your Indiana optometry license is the foundation of your practice. Without it, your profession, business, and livelihood are beyond reach. When you’re facing a threat to your license—whether initial licensure, renewal, or a complaint—you need an Indiana Optometry License Defense Lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP to help you overcome that threat. Consultation with one of our lawyers as early as possible is critical, even if you are only anticipating a possible complaint or investigation. Don’t delay—contact us today at (317) 857-0160 or visit our online contact page for a free consultation.