If you have been contacted by an investigator or received a letter from the North Carolina Chiropractic Board of Examiners about a complaint, you may be uncertain about what to do next, what the procedures are, and what the results may be. You may also be trying to decide whether you need to retain an attorney. Our firm represents chiropractors (hereafter, “licensees”) in responding to the Chiropractic Board and defending against allegations of misconduct.
In the sections below, we attempt to address some of the questions you may have and explain the general process, procedures, and possible results.
North Carolina Chiropractic Board of Examiners
As background, the North Carolina Chiropractic Board of Examiners was established by the General Assembly to regulate chiropractic practice. The Board consists of 8 members appointed by the Governor and General Assembly, six of whom are practicing chiropractors who have actively practiced for at least eight consecutive years. The Board meets on a quarterly basis or when otherwise warranted.
How Complaints are Handled
When a complaint is received, the secretary of the Chiropractic Board reviews the complaint to determine whether a major or minor violation has been alleged. If the secretary determines that the alleged violation is minor, s/he attempts to resolve the complaint by informal communications with the complainant and the chiropractor. If the secretary determines that the alleged violation is major, s/he assists the complainant in filing a formal complaint.
A formal complaint is executed in writing under oath on a form provided by the secretary. It specifies the statute or rule allegedly violated and contains a short statement of the acts or omissions constituting the alleged violation, including the dates of said acts or omissions. Formal complaints are investigated by the Chiropractic Review Committee which is composed of the secretary, the attorney for the Chiropractic Board and a licensed chiropractor selected by the secretary who was a candidate for board membership, but not elected.
Probable Cause Hearing and Possible Outcomes
The Chiropractic Review Committee determines if probable cause exists to believe a violation of the laws governing chiropractors has occurred. The respondent chiropractor receives notice of the probable cause hearing at least 15 days in advance of the probable cause hearing. Because the probable cause hearing is considered informal, the secretary can establish procedures s/he believes are necessary to assist in examination of evidence, and the Review Committee can consider evidence that would not be admissible if offered at a hearing in a contested case.
After examining the evidence, the Review Committee may:
Formal Hearing for Contested Cases and Possible Outcomes
Disciplinary proceedings to enforce the behavior listed above are considered contested cases, and the licensee has a right to a hearing. The hearing is conducted by a majority of the board, and the president normally serves as the presiding officer.
When the Board finds that a chiropractor or applicant is guilty of any offense described above, it may:
Impact of Decision of Whether to Retain an Experienced Law Firm
If you have received a letter from the Board staff or have a pending formal hearing, you should consider retaining a firm like ours that has experience representing licensees before the N.C. Chiropractic Board of Examiners. Disciplinary action could have a significant and permanent impact on your license(s) in NC and other states, which also can substantially affect you financially and personally. Hiring an experienced law firm can be an investment in your professional future as a chiropractor.