If your license is under the oversight of the Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy (BBHT), you know how seriously they take complaints. After receiving a notice that the Board is investigating a complaint against you, you may wonder what your next step is, if your career is at risk, and how you can protect your years of hard work and education.
Forshier Law, LLC is here to help. Barbara Forshier is a registered nurse with over three decades of nursing experience and over a decade of legal experience representing healthcare professionals, so she knows how the system works and how licensing boards investigate and handle complaints. More importantly, she knows what it takes to protect a hard-working nurse, therapist, or counselor from complaints. As an attorney, she advocates fiercely for hard-working health care professionals who are facing disciplinary action. Reach out to her today at 612-236-5261 to schedule a consultation.
Complaints Against Mental Health Professionals in Minnesota
Most complaints against counselors, therapists, and alcohol and drug counselors can be fit into one of several common categories. Across the country, common sources of complaints include:
- Failure to meet continuing education requirements
- Dual relationships (when multiple relationships exist between a client and patient—if a client and patient are or become friends, romantic partners, family, or coworkers)
- Unprofessional conduct (broad category that covers many more specific errors)
- Counseling without a license
- Not maintaining records
- Unsuitable to provide mental health services
- Professional misrepresentation
- Defrauding insurance companies
- Lying to the Board
- Failure to provide treatment records
- Failure to protect client
- Failure to report suspected abuse or neglect
- Exceeded scope of practice or competence
As you see, these complaints vary widely in severity. Some complaints focus on mistreatment or neglect of patients, while others center around mishandling of licensing and education obligations.
Some of these complaints are unlikely to significantly impact your license or career. For example, if you did not meet continuing education requirements, you may be permitted to keep your license if you catch up within a set timeframe and then stay ahead for several years after the initial error. Others, however, are much more serious. For example, if you are accused of having a romantic relationship with a client, you could lose your license in Minnesota and be barred from practicing anywhere else in the country.
The major threat to mental health professionals occurs when a patient, family member, or other person familiar with your business makes false claims against your practice. Even if a complaint is unfounded, you could lose your license if you do not take proper steps to defend yourself and fight for your license.
Complaint Resolution Process in Minnesota
In Minnesota, an official complaint must go through the complaint resolution process as laid out by the Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy. After a complaint is received, it either goes straight into investigation or is reviewed by the Complaint Resolution Committee. The CRC can dismiss the complaint, close the file, or send the complaint for investigation.
During the investigation phase, you may have to respond to claims, provide records and documentation, and retain legal counsel. From there, the investigation is passed to the Complaint Resolution Committee, which reviews documentation, asks for further information, and decides what the next step is. The case may go under consultant review, be referred for an educational conference, get dismissed, or require that the licensee come before the CRC.
The CRC and licensee may come to an agreement for corrective action or the licensee may dispute the CRC’s decision. Eventually, the case must either receive a disciplinary order or be dismissed.
Disciplinary decisions vary, depending on the history of the licensee, the severity of the complaint, and the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated. The Board may ask the licensee to voluntarily surrender their license, suspend the licensee’s license, award them a conditional license, revoke their license, or file an official reprimand.
Protecting Your Career and Your Future
It is crucial that you do everything in your power to protect your future. Even if you only receive an official reprimand, it will be documented and is viewable by the public on the Board’s website. This may hurt your ability to progress at your current place of employment, severely limit future job opportunities, and prevent you from transferring your license if you ever move out-of-state. As a result, you may be unable to take part in public service student loan forgiveness programs or pursue other career options in mental health.
Many people facing Board complaints believe that they can defend themselves from the coming investigation and possible disciplinary action. However, remember that you run the risk of implicating yourself if you unintentionally say something that damages your defense. Instead, reach out to an attorney as soon as you know you are under investigation. An attorney with experience in licensure complaints will be able to review the evidence against you, represent you at Board hearings, and help you prepare responses to questions.
Whether you’ve been unfairly targeted for a false complaint, made a misstep that has endangered your career, or unintentionally acted in a way that violates state standards, you deserve competent representation.
Take the First Step in Protecting Your License
At Forshier Law, LLC, we focus on the needs of counselors, therapists, nurses, and other care providers who are facing disciplinary action from their licensing board. We understand how frightened, unsure, and confused you may be, especially if you believe that the complaints against you are baseless. But you don’t have time to weigh your options and take your time deciding what to do—you need to act quickly to protect your license and your future.
Get started now by scheduling a free phone evaluation with Forshier Law, LLC. Our goal is to help hard-working health care professionals keep providing valuable services to their communities without excessive disciplinary actions that can restrict their practice. Fill out our contact form or call us today to schedule your free consultation. We look forward to helping you.