Joseph P. Hougnon, Attorney at Law

Chiropractor License Defense Attorney


If you’re a chiropractor in the State of California, you’ve worked very hard to get the education and experience that was necessary to obtain your license. That license is the heart of your professional life. It has allowed you to build a successful practice and it allows you to sustain that practice. It allows you to meet your financial obligations. Most importantly, it allows you to care for yourself and those that you love.

However, a single mistake on your part or a single complaint made against you can threaten your chiropractor’s license, your reputation, and your future. Furthermore, if a mistake occurs or a complaint is made, the rules governing chiropractor’s license disciplinary proceedings are far from simple. The complexity of these rules can make it virtually impossible for a layperson to successfully defend their license and protect their ability to earn a living.

If you have been contacted by an investigator from the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners or have been mailed a formal accusation, now is the time to take proactive steps to protect both your license and your livelihood. Chiropractor’s license defense attorney Joe Hougnon has the expertise and the knowledge necessary to defend your license against disciplinary proceedings. No matter what allegations have been made against you, Joe can work to protect your practice, your reputation, and your future.

The California Board of Chiropractic Examiners

There are over 14,000 licensed chiropractors in the State of California. All of these chiropractic licenses are managed by the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners, or BCE. It is the responsibility of the BCE to promulgate regulations, issue licenses, and investigate and impose discipline where a chiropractor has impacted the health, welfare, or safety of the general public in California. In fact, per the BCE’s disciplinary guidelines, the Board is first and foremost a consumer protection agency whose primary mission is to protect consumers of chiropractic services from potentially harmful licensees. Needless to say, the BCE takes its disciplinary responsibilities very seriously. In fact, about 70% of the BCE’s annual budget goes towards enforcement activities.

The BCE Disciplinary Process

The BCE disciplinary process is most commonly initiated when the Board receives a complaint about a chiropractor. This complaint can come from a patient, other medical professionals, or a government entity. The discipline process can also be initiated if a chiropractor is convicted of a crime.  The BCE has jurisdiction over cases involving alleged violations of the Chiropractic Initiative Act, Business and Professions Code, and those sections of the California Code of Regulations relating to the practice of chiropractic.

When a complaint is sent to the BCE, it is first reviewed to determine if the Board has jurisdiction over the allegations being made. For example, the BCE does not have jurisdiction over disputes involving fees or billing, general business practices, or personality-based conflicts. In cases where the BCE does have jurisdiction, the matter is forwarded to the enforcement unit for further investigation. Complaints involving allegations of sexual misconduct, gross negligence, or incompetence and insurance fraud are given priority.

A representative of the enforcement unit will review the complaint as well as any supporting materials that the complainant has provided. An interview of the complainant may be conducted. In some cases, the investigator may contact the chiropractor for additional information or documentation. If the investigation reveals that clear and convincing evidence exists to support the allegations made in the complaint, one of several disciplinary options for dealing with the matter will be chosen. These include:

  • Issuance of a letter of admonishment which may or may not contain an order of abatement requiring the chiropractor to take certain remedial actions;
  • Issuance of a citation and fine up to $5000; and
  • Issuance of a formal accusation.

When an accusation is filed, the BCE will almost certainly try to suspend or revoke the license of the chiropractor in question. In general, the Board reserves the use of accusations to the most serious violations, yet takes the position that revocation should always be an option where the grounds for discipline exist.

After the accusation is filed, the matter will be heard by an administrative law judge, or ALJ, working for the California Office of Administrative Hearings. The hearing itself is somewhat like a formal trial. The BCE, as the accusing party, needs to prove its case against the chiropractor by clear and convincing evidence. Both parties have the ability to discover the identities of witness and documents in the possession of the opposing side prior to the hearing, and both sides get to present evidence that supports their respective positions at the hearing.

Once the hearing is concluded, the ALJ has 30 days to issue a proposed decision. This decision is “proposed” because it is not binding on the BCE. The Board has the power to reject the decision outright and replace it with a decision of its own. It can also accept the decision in whole or in part. If the chiropractor disagrees with the Board’s decision, he or she has the option of appealing the matter to the California court system. However, it should be noted that a civil court will only review the record of the administrative hearing for mistakes that were made in the application of the applicable laws. It will not review any of the factual evidence or hear new evidence.

Discipline Initiated by a Criminal Conviction

The BCE will also attempt to discipline a chiropractor who has pled guilty to or been convicted of a felony or any crime that substantially related to the practice of chiropractic. In practice, the term “substantially related” has been given a fairly broad interpretation by the BCE and the courts. Any misdemeanor or felony involving DUI, violence, fraud, theft or dishonesty will be enough to initiate disciplinary action on the part of the BCE.

In the end, the laws governing chiropractic are stringent, and the BCE takes its enforcement of these laws seriously. Should your license be suspended or revoked, you will be unable to legally practice and earn a living. Any contact from the BCE must be acted on immediately. One of the easiest ways to lose your license is to ignore an investigation initiated by the CBE. California chiropractor’s license defense attorney Joe Hougnon can give you the aggressive representation that you need to keep your license and keep working. Feel free to contact our office today for a free and confidential consultation.

Joe Hougnon, Esq.

Answers to all your questions are only a phone call away. Call Now at (916) 730-5251.