The road to becoming a licensed doctor or nurse in Wisconsin is not an easy one. Therefore, if or when you are named in a formal complaint about care delivery you've been involved with, it needs to be taken seriously. Because it is a legal process, working with an advocate who knows your profession and the law is important.
It's useful to be aware that if the Department of Safety and Professional Services initiates an investigation of you, it may be based upon an initial complaint. However, the scope of the probe likely won't be limited to that issue alone. Your entire career could come under scrutiny and any issue discovered could lead to disciplinary action. Here's what to expect if a complaint is filed.
The handling process
Step one in the process is the formal submission of the complaint. The individual making the complaint can do so anonymously using a standardized form. The Division of Legal Services and Compliance receives the paperwork, notifies you about the issue, compiles related information and forwards it to a screening unit to determine if an investigation is needed.
If an inquiry opens, collecting evidence and contacting possible witnesses follows. If professional expertise is called for, a member of the appropriate board might be consulted. If no discipline is necessary, the case is closed. Findings of violation get sent on for additional legal action.
The legal action stage involves a DLSC attorney review of the matter. Depending on the nature of the alleged issue, settlement might be negotiated or resolved through an informal settlement or administrative warning. If no resolution is reached, a hearing may be scheduled.
At this point, the process becomes more formal. The DLSC attorney essentially prosecutes the matter before an administrative law judge. You are entitled to be present and to have legal representation. Considering that an official reprimand, revocation, suspension or limitation of your professional credentials is possible outcomes, enlisting experienced legal help clearly makes sense.
If disciplinary action results you can appeal through the normal court system, but solid defense of your rights depends on understanding what they are.