LARA Defense Attorneys - Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

Medical Staff talking about Hiring a LARA Defense Attorney, with text saying "LARA vs Your Medical License"

Navigating the complexities of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) can be a daunting task for healthcare professionals without the help of LARA Defense Attorneys. Whether you’re a doctor, physician, nurse, psychologist, or any other licensed healthcare provider understanding how LARA operates is crucial for safeguarding your professional medical license.

In this article our goal is to empower healthcare professionals by demystify LARA’s processes and bring value by arming you with the knowledge you need to defend your healthcare license effectively, as well as knowing all of the right questions to ask when seeking council via LARA Attorneys who specialize in defending professional licenses.

What Does Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Do?

LARA is responsible for the licensure and regulation of various professions in Michigan, including licensed healthcare providers such as nurses, doctors, and physicians. They ensure that professionals adhere to the state’s laws and regulations, thereby maintaining the integrity and quality of healthcare services. If one fails to adhere to these regulations, licensing suspension or revocation as well as other consequences can occur.

Do Criminal Convictions Need to Be Reported to LARA?

The Michigan Public Health Code requires that any criminal conviction be reported to LARA within 30 days after the date of conviction. Any failure to notify LARA will result in administrative action. While those with medical licenses may choose to report a criminal conviction themselves, it’s essential to approach reporting any criminal conviction to LARA with the legal guidance of a healthcare licensing defense attorney. They specializes in dealing with LARA, and have experience helping those with self-reporting criminal convictions, in defense of those with medical licenses.

Is There Time Limit For Self-Reporting To LARA?

While there is a 30 day time limit for self-reporting a criminal conviction to LARA, the starting date for that 30 day period can vary depending upon whether your case is a state criminal matter or a federal criminal matter. It is vitally important to verify that start date so a criminal conviction notice is provided on time.

What Are The Consequences of Self-Reporting to LARA?

Self-reporting in many cases may initiate a LARA investigation. However, there are criminal convictions in which providing mitigating information, which can include a substance abuse evaluation, can result in no action being taken by LARA. In those cases in which an investigation results in an administrative complaint, the outcomes can range from a simple reprimand to more severe actions such as licensing suspension or revocation. These disciplinary actions become part of the public record, potentially affecting your future eligibility for employment and standing in the healthcare community. This is why it is imperative that you contact attorneys who specialize in healthcare, and have experience in dealing with LARA.

Who Files Complaints With LARA, And Why?

Criminal convictions are not the only mechanism for initiating LARA investigations. Complaints can be filed by anyone, from patients and their families to fellow healthcare providers. The reasons vary but often include alleged violations of laws or standards of care:

  • Patients: Patients often file complaints for various reasons, such as perceived medical malpractice or dissatisfaction with treatment outcomes. However, not all complaints are justified. For example, a patient might file a complaint due to dissatisfaction with a treatment outcome, even when the healthcare provider has followed all standard procedures and guidelines.

  • Family Members: Family members commonly file complaints when they believe their loved one has received substandard care or has been neglected. However, these complaints can sometimes stem from misunderstandings or emotional distress. For instance, a family member may file a complaint blaming a healthcare provider for the natural progression of a disease, mistaking it for neglect.

  • Fellow Providers: Fellow healthcare providers may file complaints for ethical violations or if they witness abuse or neglect. However, some complaints may be motivated by workplace conflicts or professional jealousy. For example, a colleague might file a complaint alleging incompetence simply because they disagree with your treatment approach, rather than any actual misconduct.

  • Employers: Employers may file complaints for reasons such as violation of workplace policies or substance abuse. However, complaints from employers can sometimes be retaliatory, such as after a healthcare provider has engaged in whistleblowing activities or following a contentious termination.

How Does LARA Respond to Complaints Filed Against Healthcare Professionals?

Upon receiving a complaint, LARA assigns an investigator to look into the allegations. The investigator may contact the healthcare professional for an interview and gather relevant documents. If no violation is found, the case is closed; otherwise, it may escalate to an administrative complaint.

What is an Administrative Complaint?

An administrative complaint is a formal document that outlines allegations of professional misconduct against a healthcare provider. While it’s common to associate administrative complaints with the Board of Medicine, it’s crucial to understand the nuanced relationship between LARA and the Board in this context.

LARA plays a pivotal role in the initiation of the administrative complaint process. When LARA’s investigation finds evidence of a violation, it can trigger the issuance of an administrative complaint. However, the actual issuance of the administrative complaint is generally the responsibility of the specific licensing board involved, such as the Board of Medicine for physicians.

In essence, LARA acts as the investigative arm, gathering evidence and determining whether there’s sufficient cause to escalate the matter. If LARA finds that there is, the case is forwarded to the relevant licensing board, which then issues the administrative complaint.

Can A Complaint Through LARA Be Proven False or Unjustified?

Yes, a complaint filed through LARA can indeed be proven false or unjustified. While the complaint process exists to protect the public and maintain the integrity of healthcare professions, it’s not uncommon for complaints to be filed based on misunderstandings, personal vendettas, or even competitive tactics among healthcare providers.

For example, a patient may file a complaint alleging medical malpractice because they did not experience the expected outcome from a treatment. However, upon investigation, it may be revealed that the healthcare provider followed all standard procedures and protocols, and the outcome was an unfortunate but known risk of the treatment. In such cases, the complaint would be considered unjustified.

Another example could be a nurse being accused of patient neglect by a family member who is unaware of the medical complexities involved in the patient’s care. Upon reviewing the patient’s records and interviewing staff, LARA may find that the nurse provided appropriate care, thereby proving the complaint to be false.

What Does A LARA Investigation entail?

A LARA investigation is a comprehensive process aimed at verifying the validity of a complaint filed against a healthcare provider. During the investigation, LARA may interview various parties involved, including the healthcare provider in question, their colleagues, supervisors, and even patients or their family members. The questions asked during these interviews often focus on the specific allegations made in the complaint, such as potential violations of standard care procedures, ethical concerns, or any incidents of abuse or neglect.

In addition to interviews, LARA investigators will typically review a wide range of documents. These can include patient records, billing statements, employment records, and any correspondence that might be relevant to the case. The investigators may also consult with medical experts to assess the healthcare provider’s actions against industry standards.

What Is A Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Board Hearing?

A Board Hearing is a formal proceeding where the healthcare professional can present their case. It’s a critical stage where the outcome can significantly impact your professional future.

Healthcare providers should come to the hearing well-prepared. This includes having all relevant documentation organized, such as patient records, employment history, and any correspondence related to the case. Additionally, providers should be prepared to give testimony and possibly present witnesses who can support their defense.

Having an attorney who specifically practices healthcare defense law can offer several benefits. First, they bring a deep understanding of healthcare regulations and standards, which can be invaluable in presenting your case effectively. Second, they can help you prepare for the types of questions that may be asked during the hearing, ensuring that you’re not caught off guard. Lastly, an experienced healthcare defense attorney can help negotiate settlements or lesser disciplinary actions, should the board find against you.

What Are Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Disciplinary Actions?

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has the authority to take disciplinary actions against all licensed healthcare professionals, including doctors, physicians, nurses, and mental healthcare workers. These actions are taken to ensure the safety and well-being of patients and to uphold the integrity of the healthcare profession.

Disciplinary actions can range from fines and reprimands to more severe measures like license suspension or revocation. Healthcare providers may also be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank, which serves as a permanent record of any disciplinary actions taken against them. In cases involving substance abuse issues, healthcare professionals may be referred to the Health Professionals Recovery Program for evaluation and treatment.

LARA has developed a process to determine the eligibility of removing disciplinary actions that accompanied a criminal conviction. This involves filing a written request with LARA, which is then reviewed before deciding to grant full expungement, partial expungement, or ineligible for expungement.

Can LARA Disciplinary Actions Be Expunged?

If you’ve faced disciplinary actions from LARA due to a criminal conviction, there’s good news. Recent changes in Michigan law, such as the Clean Slate Act, allow for the expungement of certain criminal offenses and the corresponding disciplinary actions against your healthcare license. Consulting a LARA attorney can help you navigate this newly available option.

What Is The Michigan Clean Slate Act?

The Michigan Clean Slate Act, first introduced in 2020, allows for certain criminal offenses to be automatically set aside or expunged from an individual’s record after a predetermined waiting period. This legislation has significant implications for healthcare providers who have faced disciplinary actions from LARA due to criminal convictions.

For example, misdemeanors punishable by less than 93 days’ imprisonment can be set aside if seven years have passed since the imposition of the sentence. Similarly, non-assaultive felonies can be expunged so long as 10 years have passed since the completion of any imprisonment or the imposition of the sentence.

LARA has developed a process to determine the eligibility of removing disciplinary actions that accompanied a criminal conviction. This involves filing a written request with LARA, which is then reviewed before deciding to grant full expungement, partial expungement, or declaring the individual ineligible for expungement.

LARA Qualifications for Expungement

Full Expungement

  • The criminal conviction has been set aside either through the Michigan Clean Slate Act or the Setting Aside Convictions Act.

  • The healthcare provider has no other pending investigations or disciplinary actions.

  • The conviction did not involve patient harm or endangerment.

Partial Expungement

  • The criminal conviction has been set aside, but there are other pending investigations or disciplinary actions.

  • The conviction involved minor patient harm but did not lead to severe consequences like death or permanent disability.

Ineligible for Expungement

  • The healthcare provider has multiple criminal convictions that cannot be set aside.

  • The conviction involved severe patient harm, endangerment, or financial fraud.

  • The healthcare provider is currently serving a sentence or is under investigation for another offense.

The Setting Aside Convictions Act (MCL 780.621 et seq.)

The Setting Aside Convictions Act, cited as MCL 780.621 et seq., is a Michigan law that allows individuals to file an application for an order to set aside or expunge certain criminal convictions from their records. Unlike the Michigan Clean Slate Act, which provides for automatic expungement of specific offenses, the Setting Aside Convictions Act requires individuals to actively apply for expungement.

For healthcare providers who have faced disciplinary actions from LARA due to criminal convictions, this act offers another pathway for expungement. Successfully setting aside a conviction through this act can lead to the removal of associated disciplinary actions on your professional license. However, there are stipulations:

  • Assaultive Criminal Convictions: No more than two assaultive convictions may be set aside in an individual’s lifetime.

  • Felony Convictions: No more than one felony conviction with a punishment of 10+ years’ imprisonment may be set aside.

Should I Hire An Attorney To Defend My Medical License?

Absolutely, an experienced healthcare licensing defense attorney can guide you through the complex LARA process, the initial investigation to the final board hearing, potentially avoid disciplinary actions, and pursue expungement for criminal convictions. Legal representation can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. And now that LARA allows for the removal of disciplinary actions that accompanied a criminal conviction, healthcare providers have a new lifeline to which medical licensing defense attorneys can navigate them through.

If you’ve made it this far, we hope this article has empowered you with valuable insights and helped clarify the key points associated with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) and the issues that healthcare professionals can face. If you have more questions or need expert guidance, don’t hesitate to send an online submission below, or give us a phone call for a consultation with one of our healthcare licensing defense attorneys in our Michigan office.

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