Indiana Psychology License Defense Lawyer
After years of educational pursuit and perhaps many years of practice, the worst thing that can happen to you as a licensed psychologist is to lose your license or otherwise have your reputation damaged. If you’re facing a professional complaint that could impact your license, you need Indiana psychology license lawyers to help protect your license and career.
By engaging an Indiana psychology license defense lawyer as soon as possible after learning of a complaint, you optimize your chances of a successful outcome. Through early intervention of counsel, you send a message to the Indiana State Psychology Board (Board) that you will aggressively defend your license and status as a licensed psychologist. Keffer Hirschauer LLP serves clients from Indianapolis and across the state, applying litigation skills and an extensive understanding of professional license defense to help you.
Hiring an Indiana Psychology License Defense Lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP is a Wise Choice
The work of health care professionals is governed by many interconnected laws, regulations, and professional standards. But, just like the laws allow people to file complaints, they also provide you with protections. An Indiana psychology license defense lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP is specifically trained to sift through and interpret the many legal requirements and help protect your rights.
When your professional dreams and very livelihood are at risk because of a complaint about your professional conduct or qualifications, you need experienced counsel equally dedicated to protecting your rights. At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, we know firsthand the sacrifice and dedication required to earn your professional license. We work with our clients to develop defense strategies best calculated to remove any cloud on their license.
The Code of Professional Conduct for Indiana Psychologists
As a licensed psychologist, you are required to abide by certain statutes and rules, including the Code of Professional Conduct. The two primary categories regarding professional conduct are the relationship with the public and the relationships with other professionals.
Due to the nature of psychological diagnosis and treatment, your involvement with and relationship to patients and potential patients is of obvious concern and is governed by the Code of Professional Conduct. However, many of the provisions are stated in general terms and, therefore, are subject to interpretation.
For example, the Code of Professional Conduct prohibits you from uninvited, in-person solicitation of business from persons who are “vulnerable to undue influence.” This includes current patients as well as potential patients. You might suggest an advanced service to a current patient and later be accused of talking the patient into accepting that service. Assessing a patient’s vulnerability is not a simple matter, and it may very well look different from the patient’s point of view or even in your own hindsight.
If you have considered soliciting testimonials from current or former patients for marketing purposes, you must again consider the state of mind of those persons. The code prohibits solicitation from patients who may be found to be vulnerable to undue influence base on that patient’s situation and condition.
Interpretation is also in play when it comes to your relationship with other professionals. If you have other personnel under your supervision as a licensed psychologist, you are required by the code to provide proper oversight. If the underlings are licensed psychologists or trainees, you must help them with professional development and supervise their work and conduct. If they are not licensed, you are obligated to ensure that their activities are limited to those for which they are qualified.
Additionally, you are also bound by the statutory Health Professions Standards of Practice found at Indiana Code chapter 25-1-9. The standards first and foremost require that you practice psychology according to the Code of Professional Conduct.
In addition to that most basic requirement, the Health Professions Standards of Practice further prohibits certain conduct—some of which would not be performed in the course of the profession. For example, your license could be negatively affected if you were found to have committed fraud or deception in your practice of psychology, used false or misleading advertising, or knowingly violated any state—or federal—law or regulation governing the practice of psychology.
A professional complaint alleging violation of the Code of Professional Conduct can be very serious and threaten your reputation if not your license. An Indiana psychology license defense lawyer can help you understand the allegations and how they relate to your professional conduct requirements.
Types of Violations that Demand Representation from an Indiana Psychology License Defense Lawyer
Some standards do not refer to particular conduct but address your overall fitness to practice psychology. These, too, may be problematic because the standards could be subject to interpretation. In particular, Indiana Code § 25-1-9-4 provides that you cannot have previously been identified as unfit to practice because of one or more of the following factors:
- Professional incompetence
- Failure to keep abreast of current professional theory or practice
- Physical or mental disability
- Addiction to drugs or alcohol
With these and other statutes and rules regulating the practice of psychology and the professionals themselves, there is ample material for a disgruntled patient or other interested party to make a complaint against you. If that happens, a psychologist defense attorney in Indianapolis is what you need on your team to defend you before the Indianapolis-based Board.
A Complaint Process that Demands an Indiana Psychology License Defense Lawyer for Your Protection
Your license to practice psychology in Indiana is issued by the state through the Board, as overseen by the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency, and the Board can also take that license away. You have certain procedural protections by virtue of the process in place to investigate and verify any complaints that implicate your psychology license. Nevertheless, working with an experienced Indiana psychology license defense lawyer is crucial to taking advantage of these protections and protecting your license and livelihood.
Anyone can file a professional complaint about an Indiana psychologist—even the Board. All complaints must be in writing, signed by the complainant, and filed with the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General.
Initially, the Division’s director reviews the complaint to make an initial determination as to its merit. Upon finding merit to the allegations, the director refers the complaint to the Indiana State Psychology Board. At this time, the director is required to notify you of the complaint, its nature, potential consequences, and that the Board has a duty to attempt to negotiate a settlement. The Board then has 30 days to attempt to negotiate a settlement between you, the Board, and the complainant, during which time the Division takes no action on the complaint.
If no settlement is reached within 30 days, the Division investigates the complaint. Upon completing the investigation, the director evaluates the evidence and makes a determination on whether you should be subject to disciplinary action by the Board. Upon making that determination, the director forwards to the attorney general complaints believed to support the imposition of adverse action against the psychologist.
The attorney general has the final word in deciding whether to prosecute the complaint before the Board. If the attorney general decides against prosecution, then the matter is concluded—unless the Board votes unanimously to require prosecution, in which case the attorney general must do so.
Many times, the best-case scenario is for a settlement to be reached, which avoids a more public resolution of the case. Engaging one of the Indiana psychology license attorneys from Keffer Hirschauer LLP as soon as you know of a complaint is paramount to achieving an optimal outcome for your circumstances.
If the parties do not reach a settlement, the next best thing is for the director to decide that you should not be subject to discipline or, alternatively, for the attorney general to decide not to prosecute you. Some cases proceed to the hearing phase, in which the Board or an administrative law judge hears the case and determines whether the complainant established the allegations in the complaint. Representation by counsel steeped in knowledge and skill regarding professional license defense is equally critical during the investigation of a complaint as it is during the hearing phase.
Potential Disciplinary Action by the Indiana State Board of Psychology
If the Board or an administrative law judge finds merit to the complaint, you may be subject to any of a number of disciplinary consequences. An Indiana psychology license defense lawyer can best explain the difference between these consequences and how they could impact your future in your profession.
The most severe penalty is permanent revocation of your license. This could come as a result of a very severe one-time violation of the legal standards or repeated violations of the same or similar nature.
Suspension of your license is also possible. Again, a severe one-time violation or repeated violations might be cause for a suspension.
The Board might also censure you, meaning issue a statement of harsh criticism regarding the nature of your violation.
Similar to censure, the Board may issue a letter of reprimand which tells you what you did wrong in the Board’s eyes and what might happen if you repeat the violation.
Being placed on probation is another possible penalty. If this occurs, you are required to report back to the Board on matters related to the subject matter of the complaint. You may also be required to limit your practice area to those permitted by the Board or suffer other limits to your practice. A condition of probation might require that you perform public service and/or obtain professional education that would help ameliorate the reasons for the complaint.
Finally, the Board may assess a fine against you of not more than one $1,000 for each violation.
Your chance of prevailing against the complaint and avoiding any of these potential penalties are much greater when you work with an Indiana psychologist license defense lawyer. At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, our understanding of professional license defense and decades of litigation practice are highly effective in demonstrating weaknesses in the allegations and your qualifications to continue to serve your patients.
Learn How an Indiana Psychology License Defense Lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP Can Help
Going through the process of facing the Indiana State Board of Psychology to defend your professional conduct and qualifications can be more costly to you and your livelihood if you face it alone. Keffer Hirschauer LLP has the Indiana psychology license defense lawyer you need to protect your ability to serve your patients and continue your practice. Make the decision to contact our firm for a free consultation at (317) 857-0160 or complete our online contact page to start the process of helping you defend your license.