Upon receipt of your Statement of Complaint form, it will be reviewed to ensure that the complaint is within the Department’s jurisdiction. A written acknowledgment of having received your complaint will be mailed to you using the name and address provided on your submittal. Unfortunately, due to the large number of cases that we process, we are unable to provide regular status reports or updates. You will be notified of the final disposition of your complaint. Please be aware, however, that pursuant to Act 25 of 2009, 63 P.S §2205.1, if you submit a complaint anonymously, the Department will not be able to share any information pertaining to the complaint with anyone, including you.
How Complaints are Handled
When a completed Statement of Complaint Form within our jurisdiction is received, a file is opened and forwarded to a legal assistant who reviews it and determines whether or not an investigation is required. In making this determination, the legal assistant may confer with a prosecuting attorney in the Department's Legal Office.
Some complaints contain within themselves all the information that is necessary to determine whether a violation of the licensing law has occurred, and those complaints do not require investigation. Most complaints, however, involve issues of credibility, require that witnesses be interviewed, and/or require that documents, including medical records or contracts, be obtained for review by the Legal Office. Those complaints will be forwarded to the Department's Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation with a request that our investigators obtain the necessary information to enable us to determine whether disciplinary charges should be filed against the licensee against whom the complaint was made. Investigations can take anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on the complexity of the case.
Once the investigation is complete, the Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation forwards the investigation report to the Professional Compliance Office, which sends the matter to a prosecuting attorney for review and determination as to whether or not formal disciplinary charges should be filed. If there is not enough evidence to warrant the filing of a disciplinary action, the case is closed. The prosecuting attorney sends a letter to the Complainant notifying the Complainant of that action.
If the evidence supports the filing of formal disciplinary charges against the licensee, the prosecuting attorney initiates the action by preparing an Order to Show Cause. The Order to Show Cause sets forth allegations and directs the licensee (Respondent) to file a written Answer to those allegations within 30 days.
After the Respondent files an Answer, the matter is generally scheduled for hearing. If the matter is scheduled for hearing, the case is heard and a decision, known as an Adjudication and Order, is rendered, usually within six (6) months after the evidentiary record has been closed. If the Respondent is unhappy with the outcome, he or she may appeal the decision to Commonwealth Court.
Some matters are amenable to settlement by means of a legal document known as a Consent Agreement and Order. Either party, the Commonwealth or the Respondent, may approach the other about a possible settlement. In reaching a settlement, the parties negotiate the facts to which they will agree for the purposes of settlement and also negotiate an agreed-upon penalty that they believe will be acceptable to the applicable licensing board or commission. All Consent Agreements and Orders must be presented to and approved by the applicable licensing board or commission in order to become final.
Final Adjudications and Orders and board-approved Consent Agreements and Orders generally represent disciplinary action of some sort against a licensee or an unlicensed individual. All disciplinary actions become a permanent part of the licensee's record on file with the respective board or commission. Disciplinary actions are a matter of public record and are subject to release by the Department of State's Office of Communications and Press to various news agencies in the Commonwealth.