What to do if a complaint is filed against you with the Department of Health (DOH)

If a complaint is filed against you with the DOH, the DOH will determine if the complaint merits an investigation. If, for instance, someone complains that your office is too chilly, that will likely not be investigated because even if it were true, the temperature of your office is not a matter under DOH jurisdiction and most likely does not place the public at risk.

On the other hand, if a person – who, by the way, does not have to be a client or even anyone you have ever met – files a complaint which, if true, were under DOH jurisdiction, then the DOH will likely decide to investigate.

If it decides to investigate the allegations a Complainant has made, the DOH will assign an Investigator to your case. Then, the Investigator will send you a Letter of Notice to inform you that a complaint has been filed alleging unprofessional conduct on your part. The Letter will tell you that you don’t have to respond yet, but that you may respond if you wish to do so, and that you may engage an attorney. However, the Letter won’t give you any information as to who complained or what the specific allegations are; so it’s not really practical for you to respond at this time. You just have to wait until you know more. You may have to wait weeks or even months. You should, however, engage an attorney. You should not face this process alone. It can be complicated and subtle, and you would do best to have legal representation to aid you throughout the process.

At some undetermined time, the DOH will send a Letter of Correction (LOC). This Letter will lay out the allegations and give you a limited time to respond, indicating a deadline date. You absolutely must respond. If you don’t respond in a timely fashion, the non-response in and of itself constitutes unprofessional conduct that can trigger charges against you. An Investigator might call you and invite you to speak with him/her on the phone, or come to the DOH to speak with the Investigator in person. Anything you say to him/her may be documented. I generally advise clients not to speak to the Investigator and speak to an attorney right away.

Once the licensee calls me, I will contact the DOH to inform the investigator that I am representing the licensee. I can advise you on options for how to proceed. Together, we will determine what you need to do to respond in a timely, efficient, and thorough manner.