Becoming a chiropractor is a long and challenging process. The candidate has to pass many exams and only after successful completion of the Board exams, can they be eligible for licensing in the state. Chiropractors have similar obligations as physicians, dentists, or pharmacists, which come with several responsibilities. Sometimes a chiropractor may run into patient conflicts, administrative issues, or be faced with criminal complaints. There are also situations where complaints are made to the Board, and chiropractors get their license revoked and/or suspended. This is not a trivial matter, but it can be problematic for the chiropractor in question until the licensing board carefully reviews the case before taking any decisions.
License suspension for a chiropractor working in South Carolina is a complicated process and may be initiated by a complaint from a patient, other healthcare provider, hospital administrators, or law enforcement If the accused is found guilty of the complaint filed against him, the licensing board may rule in favor of suspension, reprimand or complete revocation of the privilege to practice medicine again.
Who is Responsible for Chiropractor Licensing?
The South Carolina State Board of Chiropractic Examiners is responsible for licensing and disciplining chiropractors in the state of South Carolina. The Board which consists of healthcare professionals and lawyers investigates all allegations of professional misconduct and malpractice. In almost all cases, the board also investigates any criminal conduct that may have happened in or out of the workplace. The key goal of the South Carolina Chiropractic Board is to protect the public from harm caused by chiropractors and at the same time maintain a certain standard of conduct. Each complaint is investigated thoroughly and in strict confidence.
What are the Reasons for Disciplining a Chiropractor in South Carolina?
Some of the reasons the South Carolina Board of Chiropractic Examiners takes disciplinary actions against chiropractors include the following:
- Conviction of a crime: In most cases, a misdemeanor may not lead to a license suspension, but it all depends on the crime and whether it’s a first event or a recurring one. For example, if the chiropractor is being accused of road rage, this may not always lead to license suspension. However, if the chiropractor was involved in a serious crime that results in a felony conviction for robbery, rape, murder or embezzlement, then their license will be suspended.
- Fraud and dishonesty: Any chiropractor found to be involved in any fraudulent activity or an act of dishonesty, it can lead to license suspension.
- Negligence/Malpractice: A common reason for license suspension is medical negligence or malpractice. A chiropractor who does not follow the right dosing guidelines or is negligent when treating the patient(s), negligence that results in harm to the patient, can have their license suspended if this behavior is reported to the Board.
- Professional misconduct: This is also a common reason to get one’s license suspended. For example, if a chiropractor is having an affair with a patient or verbally abusing his staff, or colleagues, or not following codes of conduct set by a healthcare institution, they can be reported, and they may have to face the consequences once the Board evaluates the case and takes a decision.
- Insurance fraud: If the chiropractor is engaged in making up fictitious medical billing records to obtain more reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid or other insurance companies, this activity can lead to permanent license suspension. Medicare fraud is perhaps one of the most common reasons why chiropractors lose their license. Billing for services not rendered or billing for multiple services and not providing any service are common scenarios.
- Narcotic prescriptions: Another common reason for chiropractic license suspension/revocation is the over-prescribing of narcotics to patients. While there is a role for pain management, the chiropractor needs to document the need and also examine the patient to reach such a conclusion. Liberally prescribing narcotic prescriptions to hundreds of patients a day is considered the same as selling drugs to patients and is now a federal crime.
- Alcohol or substance abuse: One very common reason why a chiropractor may lose their license to practice medicine is alcohol or substance abuse. While one episode may result in a recommendation to drug rehabilitation, repeat offenses usually are dealt with license suspensions. The case becomes more serious if one is caught driving under the influence of alcohol or operating on a patient while drunk. Use of illicit drugs and stealing narcotics from hospitals are also common reasons why many healthcare professionals lose their license.
- Sexual misconduct: In general, ethical rules state that no healthcare provider should have any type of sexual relationship with a patient. This is rigidly enforced, and many chiropractors have lost their license because of sexual misconduct with their patients. No matter how innocent the activity may appear, it is wise not to have any type of sexual relationship with patients.
- Illegal drug prescriptions: Some chiropractors have lost their license for writing illegal drug prescriptions for themselves or their families. For example, healthcare workers should not be writing prescriptions for narcotics for themselves. They should also not be handing out such prescriptions to their patients or should not be self-prescribing these drugs either.
How Can a Chiropractor Fight Against License Suspension?
In each and every case, before the license is suspended, the chiropractor will be allowed to present their version of the event in writing. In most cases, a hearing is arranged before a decision is made. In general, healthcare providers are held to a higher standard of conduct, and the burden of proof to suspend your license is much lower than what one would expect in a criminal court. If you have received a notice from the state board regarding a serious complaint against you, it is wise to speak to an attorney.
Schedule a Consultation with a South Carolina License Defense Attorney
Our legal team at The Jeffcoat Firm is here to help you deal with this situation. If you have received a call from the Board informing you that a complaint has been filed against you, call us now and discuss the specifics of your case with our attorney. It is advisable that you seek legal counsel before you give any statement to the investigator from the Licensing Board. Talk to us today, and we will guide you in the right direction.