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,
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.