What happens after a complaint is filed?
The I&I Division, Complaint Intake Section within the Bureau of Professional Licensing starts a process which could result in a disciplinary action against the licensee or registrant.
The steps in this process are described below. If the case is closed at any step in this process, the Complaint Intake Section will notify you.
The complaint is reviewed. The Complaint Intake Section reviews your allegation. This is to determine if there may be a violation of the Public Health Code. Based on the nature of the case and the review, the Complaint Intake Section may:
authorize the complaint for investigation, or
close the complaint with no further action
If the complaint involves possible impairment due to substance use or mental health disorders, the Complaint Intake Section may refer the case to the Health Professional Recovery Program (HPRP). This program is designed to protect the public while helping the health care provider to address their impairment.
The complaint is investigated. If an investigation is authorized, trained investigation staff generally:
interview the person filing the complaint;
interviews the licensed or registered health care professional;
identifies and interviews other persons who may be able to provide additional information, such as coworkers or employers; and
collects any other evidence which is needed for the case.
The investigation is completed. Once the investigation is completed, the investigator will make a recommendation based on their investigation of the matter. The investigator could recommend: 1) That the file be closed if their investigation failed to substantiate the allegation; 2) Referral for expert review to determine if the conduct as alleged was below the minimal standards for the profession; or, 3) Recommend that the file be transferred for drafting of an administrative complaint (the formal charging document).
If the file is recommended for closure and the department supports this recommendation, the file will be closed and the complainant will be notified in writing of this decision.
If the file is recommended for expert review, the file will be transferred to the section responsible for identifying an appropriate expert reviewer. The expert sought typically will be someone with the same or similar education, training and experience as the licensee or registrant who was investigated. If the expert determines that the conduct as alleged was below minimal standards for the profession, the file will be transferred for drafting of an administrative complaint. If the expert determines that the conduct was within the minimal standards for the profession, the file will be closed and the complainant notified in writing of this decision.
An administrative complaint is filed. If the State of Michigan believes that evidence exists that shows a violation of the Public Health Code, a formal administrative complaint will be issued against the licensee or registrant. The administrative complaint is the formal charging document that outlines the alleged violation(s) found. Once the administrative complaint is served, the licensee/registrant has 30 days in which to respond in writing or the matter will result in automatic sanctions.
If the State of Michigan believes there is an imminent threat to the public's health, safety or welfare, the State of Michigan, with support from the chairperson of the licensee or registrant's board, can summarily suspend a license or registration. If a Summary Suspension is issued against a licensee or registrant, they cannot practice their profession until the matter is resolved through the administrative hearing process.
A compliance conference is held. Once an administrative complaint has been issued and the licensee/registrant responds, a compliance conference is scheduled. This compliance conference provides an opportunity for the licensee/registrant to negotiate a settlement that is agreeable to both the licensee/registrant and the department prior to having the matter proceed to an administrative hearing. If a proposed settlement is reached, that settlement will then be forwarded to the disciplinary subcommittee (DSC) for their review. The proposed settlement may include:
Imposition of a monetary fine
A period of probation
Restrict the licensee's/registrant's practice
Issue a condition for continued licensing, such as additional education, community service, etc.
Suspend or revoke the person's license to practice in Michigan
Dismiss the complaint against the licensee
The DSC must approve any settlement before a settlement can be considered legal and binding. If the DSC approves the proposed settlement, the licensee/registrant is bound by the terms that were negotiated and the file is closed.
If the DSC rejects the proposed settlement, they may propose a counter-offer for the parties to consider. If the counter-offer is acceptable to the licensee/registrant, the order will become binding. If the counter-offer is rejected by the licensee/registrant, or if no settlement is reached at the compliance conference, the matter will proceed to an administrative hearing.
An administrative hearing is conducted. An administrative hearing is similar to proceedings involving criminal or civil actions except that the administrative law judge (ALJ) acts as both judge and jury. During this proceeding, witnesses for both parties are called to testify, evidence is presented and legal procedural issues are addressed. An assistant attorney general represents the State of Michigan and the licensee/registrant has the right to seek and be represented by legal counsel, at their expense.
After the hearing is concluded, the ALJ will issue a Proposal for Decision that addresses the findings of fact and conclusions of law involved in the case and the ALJ's determination as to whether or not a violation of the Public Health Code was proven. This Proposal for Decision is then presented to the appropriate DSC for their review and determination.
The DSC reviews the decision. The DSC will consider the Proposal for Decision at their next regularly scheduled meeting. Under state law, the DSC has the authority to accept the ALJ's decision and issue sanctions if violations are substantiated. Alternatively, they can dismiss the administrative complaint if the State of Michigan was unable to prove the complaints made in the administrative complaint.
The DSC also has the option of reversing the ALJ and rendering their own findings of fact and conclusions of law if they disagree with the ALJ's decision.