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Arizona Pharmacist Licensure Defense Attorney

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Phoenix Pharmacy License Attorney

Each state has its own Board of Pharmacy, which oversees the licensure of pharmacies and pharmacists to protect the public health and safety. Pharmacy Boards investigate complaints against licensees and have the power to impose civil fines, suspensions, or revocations. If a complaint is filed against you as a practicing pharmacist or against your pharmacy, whether you acknowledge an error or believe the complaint is unfounded, it is never a good idea to respond to a board investigation without an experienced defense attorney.  The board does not exist to protect you.  Though you may think it’s a matter of explaining the situation, failing to come prepared could result in the suspension or loss of your license or serious repercussions on your professional reputation. A pharmacist defense attorney will know the ideal way to handle investigations against you in a way that protects your interests, your license, and your provider-patient relationships.

At Boesen & Snow, LLC, our attorneys can help you comply with the investigation and create a defense against the complaint. Pharmacy and healthcare licensing laws are exceptionally complex, and our attorneys have worked for decades in these fields.

Our team focuses on healthcare law, and we understand the intricacies of dealing with a complaint investigation. We are highly qualified to defend your rights and interests in a meeting, a hearing, and in litigation. We have worked to defend providers like you, whether you’re facing investigation from the state board or another agency. Let an Arizona pharmacist licensure defense attorney defend you.

Who Oversees Pharmacies in Arizona?

The Arizona Board of Pharmacy issues licenses to pharmacists, pharmacy interns, and pharmacy technicians. They oversee the regulations and compliance of Arizona-licensed pharmacies and issue permits to pharmacies, wholesale providers, manufacturers, distributors, and third parties involved in the supply chain for pharmacies.

Pharmacy compliance and regulation are also managed federally. This is done by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Each agency oversees a different aspect of daily pharmacy operation to ensure health, safety, and security for the public.

The FDA ensures the security of the drug supply chain and provides guidelines to pharmacies. Following these regulations keeps patients safe and provides them with uncontaminated and legitimate prescriptions. Their regulations also cover the storage and ordering of drugs.

The DEA manages controlled substances and has regulations to ensure that substances are monitored and kept secure while in transit or in inventory. A pharmacy has to be registered with the DEA, and DEA investigations can be very serious for any pharmacist employed there.

The EPA covers how hazardous waste is removed, which includes several types of prescription drugs. A pharmacy must be aware of what drugs require hazardous removal and take care of them accordingly.

Failure to comply with these federal and state requirements can be serious. Violations may be the fault of a pharmacy’s failure to provide training and education, or it may be a pharmacist’s failure of their legal responsibilities. Both federal and state investigations can have very serious administrative, civil, and even criminal penalties.

The Process of a Complaint Against a Pharmacist

When a complaint against a pharmacist’s license is filed with the Board of Pharmacy or relevant agency, there is a process that the agency follows to investigate. Complaints against a pharmacist can be made by co-workers, colleagues, employers, patients, and healthcare facilities. These complaints can also be made against pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns.

After receiving a complaint, the Board begins an investigation if the complaint is not dismissed. The investigator of the complaint will send you a letter that includes the notice of complaint and a request to schedule a meeting with the investigator. When you receive this letter, you should immediately talk with an experienced licensed defense attorney. Your attorney can help you respond to the investigator and begin the process of gathering evidence.

The investigator will also be collecting evidence relevant to the claim. At the meeting, your attorney and the investigator will present this evidence. The investigator may also:

  • Interview witnesses such as co-workers, the person who filed the complaint, and other pharmacists and medical providers
  • Subpoena relevant employment, financial, or medical documents
  • Request a written response from you before the meeting
  • Look into criminal histories and a history of claims or complaints

If the investigator doesn’t find enough evidence during this process, the board may dismiss the complaint, and there will be no further action. If it is not dismissed, you and your attorney can work to prove the evidence incorrect or insufficient during the meeting. An attorney is an invaluable asset to gather evidence and advocate for your interests during this meeting. The investigator will decide from the meeting if a formal complaint is necessary.

A formal complaint could lead to non-disciplinary action, disciplinary action, or even an administrative hearing. If you receive an unfavorable result from the investigator, these decisions can be reviewed or appealed. It’s important to know that you can fight against complaints made on your license with a qualified attorney.

Complaints That Pharmacists Face

A complaint against a pharmacist or pharmacy technician includes a variety of issues, from noncompliance to unethical and criminal conduct. Common complaints and investigations include:

  • Errors dispensing or prescribing medications
  • Drug and hazardous waste disposal errors
  • Employment law violations
  • Failure to maintain a safe drug supply chain
  • Healthcare fraud and abuse
  • Noncompliance with pharmacy regulation and registration
  • Improper licensing
  • Billing errors or record deficiencies
  • Unethical or unprofessional conduct
  • Violations of Stark Act
  • Claims under the False Claims Act
  • Noncompliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Criminal charges, arrests, and convictions
  • Prescription-related medical malpractice

Even if you believe the accusation to be unfounded, don’t assume that will be enough to protect your license. Begin working with an Arizona pharmacist licensure defense lawyer as soon as you receive notice of the complaint.

Potential Disciplinary Actions and Penalties

If the Arizona State Board or federal agency determines that the complaint was founded, it may take disciplinary or non-disciplinary actions against the pharmacist. These agencies’ goal is to protect the public from unsafe, unprofessional, and negligent actions. Actions against pharmacists may include:

  • A letter of concern. This expresses the board’s concern over the conduct. This letter is provided when the pharmacist’s conduct is not illegal and will not impact the pharmacist further.
  • Order for continuing education. This is a non-disciplinary action that orders the pharmacist to take further education on certain topics related to the violation.
  • A decree of censure or letter of reprimand. This is a disciplinary action, though there are no probation requirements. This is a penalty that is available as a matter of public record.
  • A pharmacist can receive probation through a consent agreement, which is done in place of an official hearing. This agreement is usually only taken if disciplinary action is considered a certainty. Probation may include counseling, continuing education, supervision, fines, or even voluntary surrender of a license.
  • Practice limitations. The board may limit the scope of a pharmacist’s practice.
  • License suspension. This prevents the pharmacist from practicing for a certain period of time. Suspensions are used when the pharmacist’s actions are considered to be a hazard to public health and safety.
  • License revocation. This is a permanent action that prevents a pharmacist from practicing or getting another license for at least five years. This is a matter of public record. Reapplying for a revoked license will require evidence that the reason for revocation has been resolved.

Many of these actions can impact your professional and social reputation, as they are public record and may even be publicized. This can severely harm your career and change the rest of your life. If you fail to comply with an order for limitation, suspension, continuing education, or other board order, this may also be grounds to suspend or revoke your license.

Avoid Surrendering Your License

Though it may be tempting to avoid further disciplinary actions by submitting to an automatic license suspension, it is rarely your most optimal option. You may lose additional license, be unable to reapply for the license, and lose your job. It’s usually in your interests to challenge the suspension. Discuss your situation with an attorney if the board is requesting that you surrender your license. They can help you determine your ideal route.

How Can a Pharmacist Licensure Defense Attorney Help?

A licensed defense attorney has years of experience defending pharmacists and healthcare providers from agency investigations. You have to protect your license and your professional reputation when facing accusations and complaints. An attorney can protect you from administrative action and challenge automatic or emergency actions, represent you in your meeting and hearing, and even take the case to court if necessary. There is a lot at stake during a state or federal investigation, and you deserve effective legal counsel.

Boesen & Snow, LLC: Protecting Your License and Reputation

Boesen & Snow have more than 45 combined years of experience in complex legal issues. We firmly believe that pharmacists and medical professionals should have exceptional legal care in the face of accusations, complaints, and investigations. You’ve worked hard to obtain your license. Your career and work need to be protected. Our attorneys understand how serious this is for you and want to help you resolve it quickly. Contact our team today to see how we can help protect your reputation.

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