Being a paramedic or emergency medical technician comes with challenges. This is because you are lawfully and ethically accountable for every treatment you administer hence conforming to the appropriate protocol for all situations. Additionally, you should perform your job within a specific scope of practice. As a result, your job description can easily be misunderstood hence being charged with negligence or inaction. If you are in this position, do not fight for your license alone. Instead, consult a competent attorney like the San Diego License Attorney, who can help you in defending your professional license. For many years, we have also helped paramedics and EMTs facing roadblocks obtain a license.
Professional Discipline or EMSA Investigation Shouldn't End Your Profession
Recently, there are thousands of complaints brought against EMTs and paramedics in San Diego annually. This is because all EMTs are subject to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) background check. Besides, all arrests should be reported to the nearby Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agency immediately. The background check makes renewing professional licenses challenging as well as put the licenses at an increased possibility of being revoked.
Complaints could also be as a result of violations like:
- Alcohol/drug abuse
- Fraudulently acquiring the current license
- Abuse or mistreatment of patients
- Breaking the confidentiality of patients' information
- Sexual misconduct while on the job
- Fraudulent or dishonest conduct associated with your pre-hospital responsibilities
- Performing acts outside your area of expertise and authority
Other charges include:
- Gross Negligence
Gross negligence is acting in the recognized standard care carelessly or egregiously that hurts or endangers the patient. In other words, acting how a rational individual in the same situation wouldn't do.
Incompetence means the lack of knowledge, physical ability, and skills required to be an EMT or paramedic. An incompetence allegation could be due to a lack of the right educational background.
When any of the above allegations and complaints are filed against an EMT or paramedic, it's easy to think this will be the end of their career. Well, that is not always the case. This is because:
- The investigations may not result in any action being taken against them, and
- The license defense lawyer can present several mitigating factors at the hearing or even negotiate during or before the administrative hearing for a better plea.
Can a Conviction Cause Professional Discipline?
Despite the fact that criminal charges come with a stigma, in case potential clients know about the incident and carry penalties if found guilty, not all charges could result in disciplinary actions being taken against the EMT or paramedic license.
The same is true of your previous convictions. If they affect the license depends primarily on the offense's nature and case circumstances.
This is because the criminal conviction or charge should have standards of professional conduct counted upon an expert with the license in question or a substantial relationship to the duty. However, the prosecution team will try to interpret the substantial relationship widely. As a result, it is essential to have a qualified license attorney by your side.
Other factors the board's private case assessment or licensing board puts into consideration during the hearing include:
- You are subject to discipline, whether the crime is a misdemeanor, infraction, or felony. However, if you acted egregiously, you are more likely to be punished, and if administered the discipline will be severe
- You are more likely to avoid professional discipline if arrested or arresting police issued you with a citation but never charged by a district attorney
- The offense's nature and whether the crime is considered an offense of moral depravity (a morally depraved, reckless, or vile crime). It is worth noting that even mere violation of regulations could result in discipline
- Another factor is the kind of professional license and the licensing board. Some licensing agencies or boards are stricter than others. Also, a medical license can be suspended for all and any felony as well as misdemeanor accusations which are yet to be proven
- The duration you have practiced without formal discipline before being charged with the offense
- Whether you were already on probation or license probation when you committed the other crime
- Whether the license holder has taken significant rehabilitative efforts like alcohol and drug rehabilitation
- Another factor considered is how your case was resolved. Common case resolution methods in California include: was found guilty, plead guilty, the charge was reduced, sentenced to prison/jail or probation, charges dismissal as unsubstantiated, diversion sentencing, or found innocent
What are the Possible Disciplinary Actions You Can Face?
Emergency Medical Services Authority can react to a criminal proceeding or conviction against a defendant in numerous ways. It's possible the board could wait for the trial results, or they won't find the allegations against a defendant convincing or not find the offense as significantly linked to the practice.
If the board decides to take disciplinary action, below are the most common possibilities:
- Private Censure
Issuing a private censure (a warning letter which is not disclosed to the public)
- Fines and a citation
Another type of discipline is fines and a citation (while a citation can speak negatively about your practice to your prospective clients, fines can be hefty). The fines can be between $250 and $2,5000 depending primarily on the offense's nature and circumstances of the case. Usually, the fines should be paid within sixty days after the Emergency Medical Services Authority notice of the penalty being enacted. Nevertheless, with the help of a lawyer, you can negotiate to pay your fine within a year by presenting proof of financial strain.
It is worth noting that probation and fines are options where offenses didn't result in the patient suffering injuries. Also, you can't have both license suspension and fines as punishment for the same crime.
The next action is probation. If your professional license is on probation, so are you. Your profession depends on how well you understand and adhere to all probation conditions. Probationary terms and conditions could be negotiated. Any experienced license attorney knows how to reduce the conditions as well as the duration of probation. Additionally, the lawyer will help you in understanding what is needed of you as well as what could lead to a probation violation.
- License Revocation or Suspension
The most severe type of discipline is license revocation or suspension, where you lose your right to continue practicing indefinitely or for some time, respectively, lawfully. Luckily, with the assistance of a proficient license lawyer, it's possible to reinstate a revoked or suspended license after waiting for some time, completing the necessary paperwork, and attending a hearing.
- Suspension to stay
EMSA can also permit suspension to be stayed after a suspension as well as permit a defendant to continue practicing but under supervision and probation. This is common when the accusation against you is or includes substance abuse. Normally, probation lasts for three to five years. Although you are monitored and restricted, by complying with probation conditions, you could have your license restored.
What is the Emergency Medical Services Authority Recommended Guidelines?
Emergency Medical Services Authority has a standard guide that an administrative law judge presiding over the administrative hearing should follow. It's known as Recommended Guidelines for Disciplinary Orders and Conditions of Probation. The guide has different crimes in accordance with California Health and Safety Code Section 1798.200 as well as other statutes, which could lead to disciplinary actions.
Notably, the administrative law judge can decide to hear mitigating proof in the defendant's favor or diverge from the standard recommendation allowing a settlement that all parties are satisfied with.
The Emergency Medical Services Authority guidelines direct the administrative law judge to put the following factors into consideration:
- The seriousness of the allegation,
- Whether the harm originated from the offense,
- The harm which could have taken place,
- Existence of a previous criminal record, when the violation took place, and whether probation conditions were adhered to,
- Any mitigating or aggravating proof,
- In drug or alcohol abuse allegations, whether the defender underwent through a rehabilitation program, and
- Whether the defendant's employer has taken disciplinary action, if so, the discipline will be accredited. Consequently, this will reduce the Emergency Medical Services Authority discipline to some level.
How Does EMSA Discover About Your Charge?
Typically, you are supposed to report all your convictions, charges, or arrests to the licensing board. You should contact your licensing agency to review the reporting time frames and requirements. For more convenience, you can ask your attorney to check these details for you.
Moreover, EMSA regularly checks with the California Department of Justice (DOJ) criminal record department. It permits the board to access records on convictions, arrests, and tickets. Once the agency finds a conviction, record, or criminal allegations against a paramedic or EMT, the board will send the defendant a notice of the discovery. Sent by mail, the notice will also need you to make known all necessary details about the incident.
Also, the California DOJ can reach your licensing board about the charge or criminal arrest.
Although the defendant ought to cooperate with EMSA, they should not provide the board with information before getting legal advice from a competent license lawyer. This is because anything they utter can be used against them.
Defending a Professional License
If EMSA has served you with an Accusation, you should submit a Notice of Defense to protect your rights. Typically, the Notice of Defense should be filed within fifteen days after being served with the Accusation.
Make sure you understand the documentation that comes with the Accusation and adhere to the instructions. Your license defense attorney should be able to help you.
It is worth noting that you will be required to bring the Notice of Defense, whether you want to settle with your licensing agency or use an administrative hearing.
Failing to bring a Notice of Defense will lead to Default Decision and Order. Usually, this order leads to the revocation of a license.
After bringing the Notice of Defense, your lawyer will start working with the lawyer representing EMSA. First, you must request discovery. Discovery is the request for any evidence, your licensing agency has.
The next step is formulating defenses. In case you do not agree with the accusations made against you, your lawyer should develop effective defenses. This will be realized by obtaining proof of mitigation and rehabilitation.
Typically, an allegation can be resolved in either of the following:
- Stipulated Settlement
A stipulated settlement is a settlement made between the medical practitioner and their licensing authority, where both parties agree to a case resolution. The case can be resolved through dismissal, surrendering the license, or revocation. Most cases are settled through disciplinary action that requires the license to be placed on probation.
- Administrative Hearing
If the case can’t be resolved through settlement, the paramedic will proceed to an administrative hearing before an administrative law judge (ADL).
Resolving the case can take months. This is because if your case was resolved through a settlement, your case would still be presented to the EMSA director or board for approval. If the case proceeds to an administrative hearing, the ADL has thirty days to make a rule. Moreover, EMSA has one hundred days to either approve the ADL’s decision or not.
How Your Attorney will Protect Your License despite the Criminal Charge
A license attorney understands different methods that a conviction or criminal charge can be considered substantially related to a defendant's career as well as how to beat such allegations.
The lawyer could claim that the infraction, offense, or citation isn't going to have an impact on your performance or how you uphold professional standards.
Getting an acquittal or dismissal in a trial is paramount. But then again, winning a jail sentence is the best outcome. This is because it allows you to keep the license
Also, if you're found guilty or plead guilty of an offense, it is essential to use your entitlement of a hearing. It's possible even if you aren't convicted that an administrative hearing could take place.
It is okay if a defendant can avoid the hearing by getting the board to drop the accusations or through negotiations. But if they decide to attend the hearing, they have a chance to clear themselves or reduce the discipline the offense attracts by presenting mitigating factors. After being convicted in a court of law, the administrative hearing will only pay attention to mitigating factors.
Common mitigating factors which can save a professional license include:
- Absence of prior criminal record,
- Absence of harm to patients,
- Cooperation with EMSA's investigation,
- Self-reporting the incidence early to EMSA voluntarily, and
- Making rehabilitative efforts as well as voluntary restitution to all victims.
Discussed below are factors that could assist you in saving your license after committing an offense.
- To avoid your charge from being filed formally make sure you pre-file a litigation letter with the district attorney
- You can also use legally and ethically accepted delay tactics
- If you cannot avoid trial, the best solution is getting in a diversion program
- You can also try to keep the probationary period short
Can a Previous Conviction Affect Your Professional License?
Your license lawyer should be able to use strategies that assist in gaining an acquittal or dismissal of your charges as well as protect your license even when you can't avoid the conviction.
Fortunately, if convicted and lose the license, you can get the conviction expunged, criminal record sealed, offense pardoned, or obtain a certificate of rehabilitation. All the above methods can reinstate a license that has been suspended successfully.
It is worth noting that not all criminal convictions are expunged. As a result, obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation or a governor's pardon could be the only effective course of action.
Moreover, if the charges are dismissed, you ought to seek a factual finding of innocence to increase your odds of maintaining your professional license.
What Happens if You Fail to Disclose about a Previous Conviction or Incidence when Applying for a Professional License?
Failure to reveal your current criminal charges or investigation, or a conviction for a felony or misdemeanor in any state or place, as well as an expunged conviction, no contest, or a plea of nolo contendere, is well-thought-out as a fraud in the procurement of certificate. Under California Penal Code Section 1203.4, this could lead to denial of the professional certificate or disciplinary action.
All previous convictions and incidents should be disclosed every time you are applying for a professional license. You should offer verified court documents or records as well as a detailed statement.
Additionally, you should reveal if you had an accreditation, certification, or professional healing art license denied, revoked, placed on probation, or suspended. You should also disclose if you’re currently under disciplinary action or investigation. Like previously mentioned, it is your responsibility to give the necessary documentation as well as a written statement explaining what happened and remediation.
Finding a San Diego License Defense Lawyer Near Me
Emergency medical technicians or paramedics dedicate their lives to save other people's lives. As a result, it can be painful for you when you face charges or accusations which could stop you from performing your official duties. At San Diego License Attorney, we can assist you in fighting the charges against you as well as continue doing what you love doing. Call us at 619-728-7448 and schedule an initial appointment.