Lawyer Monthly - October 2022

of Health Professional Licensing within the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) refers an allegation to the health professional’s governing board. If the Board determines that an investigation is warranted, then LARA will send a letter stating that the professional is the subject of an investigation regarding a possible violation of the Public Health Code. This vague letter should prompt its recipient to retain an attorney, who can then contact the LARA investigator and schedule an inperson meeting to discuss the allegations at issue and what documentation or other evidence may be requested. Investigators are not neutral factfinders; they are charged with finding violations of the Public Health Code. The professional and his or her attorney may choose to produce medical records. The physician-patient privilege does not apply to a LARA investigation, nor do HIPAA protections apply to otherwise protected health information. In addition to the medical records and any other proffered evidence, the investigator may consult an expert to render a professional opinion regarding whether or not the professional violated the applicable standard of care or otherwise violated the Public Health Code. The investigator will produce a written report for use by the State Board of Medicine in determining whether or not the professional violated the Public Health Code. This process typically takes 4-6 months. If a favourable decision is rendered, the investigation is over. If the Board instead decides that a violation occurred, then LARA will file an administrative complaint, which must be answered within 30 days. If LARA believes that the professional poses a current threat to public health, safety or welfare, a summary suspension of the professional’s license may also be issued. The professional will then have an opportunity to meet with a representative of the Board to negotiate a settlement or to present evidence that the professional did comply with the Public Health Code. If the complaint is not dismissed or a settlement is not reached, an administrative law judge will hold a hearing on the 22 LAWYERMONTHLYOCTOBER 2022

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