It takes years of education and training to qualify for a respiratory care practitioner’s license. Your job is sensitive, and you may not make every patient happy despite your best efforts. For instance, a single mistake or false allegation can ruin your career. After working so hard, you do not want anything that can cause your license to be suspended or revoked. If you are notified of any allegations against you, getting a professional license attorney to advise and fight the claims is the best thing to do. Our job at the San Diego License Attorney is to help practitioners like you to retain their licenses and continue operating legally.
The Role of the Respiratory Care Board of California
The respiratory care board in California is mandated to issue respiratory care licenses to practitioners and monitor their practice. The board also works at expanding the respiratory care services available to the residents of California. Additionally, it creates awareness of the crucial roles played by the respiratory care practitioners and design or support programs on respiratory care education. Their primary mission, however, is to ensure the public is protected from any unsafe practices.
The main concern of the board is to safeguard patients but not support practitioners. With this authority, they restrict the issuance of licenses to practicing and prospective respiratory care practitioners. They also issue citations to practitioners, give public reprimands, and revoke or suspend licenses when the offenses are significant.
As a regulating and monitoring body, they enforce the act for respiratory care practice, the business and professional code, the code of regulations in California, among other laws.
If the board receives any complaint against you, you face a potential threat to your practice. This is based on the kind of allegations against you and if there are any mitigating or aggravating factors. The complaints, when brought before the administrative judge, are evaluated and argued before a decision is made.
The board has disciplinary guidelines that every practitioner must adhere to. These guidelines are the same ones used during administrative hearings. The guidelines are grouped into two categories of major and minor offenses. Each type of allegation has disciplinary actions against the crime if found guilty.
Generally, if a violation threatens the patient’s life, or to injure them, then it is a significant offense. An offense that may cause harm to the practitioner or the public is also considered vital. For instance, treating patients when you are intoxicated, refusing to take a drug test, using deception to pass a test, among others, is significant. If you had been put on license probation, failing to adhere to the conditions of the probation is considered a considerable violation as well.
When your violation is considered significant, the board will immediately stop your practice as they deliberate on the professional discipline to give you. This is usually a temporary suspension but can adversely affect your practice or career, especially when the board takes time to decide.
Minor violations, on the other hand, are those that do not threaten the life of the practitioner, their patient, or the public; neither can they injure them. If a practitioner fails to adhere to minor conditions on their probation, they commit minor violations that expose them to disciplinary action. Disciplinary actions for minor offenses are, however, not as severe, but a repeat may see the practitioner face harsher penalties.
Getting a citation is familiar with minor violations. Unfortunately, getting a citation will go into your record, and the public can see it. This means your current or potential future patients will see it, and it can still affect your business. Sometimes, a citation gets accompanied by a hefty fine that causes harm to your finances.
Fortunately, before disciplinary action is taken against you for any allegations, you get an opportunity to defend yourself. Whether the complaints constitute a major or minor violation, fighting them is crucial for your career. With a professional license lawyer, it is possible to fight against these claims. This will help you avoid a record or remove the violation from your record.
The Roles of a Respiratory Care Practitioner According to the Board
A respiratory care practitioner is trained to carry out various roles, and the respiratory care board monitors their practice to ensure their patients get the best treatment. These practitioners are also known as respiratory therapists. These therapists provide an essential service that entails helping patients deal with and overcome breathing difficulties they might be facing.
A respiratory therapist is tasked with operating ventilators, respirators, and other medical equipment used in saving lives. Respiratory therapists work in hospitals or provide home-based care to patients. Their services are critical in keeping patients alive, and a careless mistake can cost a patient’s life. People of all ages require respiratory therapists, and the demand for their services is on the increase.
Some of the typical patients are those dealing with asthmatic conditions, Emphysema, bronchitis, or COPD. Other patients may be healing from heart attacks or strokes, while others may be suffering from traumatic injuries in an accident. Sleep apnea patients also require the services of a respiratory therapist. Because of the nature of these illnesses, some patients can be irritable or frustrated by life and will complain about everything. You must be patient and careful in dealing with them to avoid baseless allegations against you.
Some of the duties of a respiratory therapist are:
Providing life support through mechanical ventilation, doing testing, diagnosis, and monitoring of the patient
Taking the patient’s vital signs
Monitoring tracheostomies as well as all the other artificial airways
Treating chronic respiratory conditions as discussed earlier
Giving the patient aerosol medicines
Helping rehabilitate the patient and educating them
Monitoring how the patient responds to therapy and reporting any cause of alarm
Drawing the patient’s blood for testing oxygen quantity, carbon dioxide, among other gases
Analyzing samples of sputum and results from X-rays if related to lungs
Determining how impaired a patient’s lungs are
Providing education on asthma
Spearheading programs against smoking
Based on these duties, the job of a respiratory therapist is demanding, and during the carrying out of responsibilities, misunderstandings can happen, even mistakes. The nature of a respiratory therapist’s work can expose them to potential lawsuits, criminal allegations, and disciplinary action from the board.
A mistake can also happen despite your best efforts. Many patients or their family members can raise complaints against a respiratory practitioner out of a simple misunderstanding. Unfair expectations or unrealistic goals by patients and their families often bring disputes that result in various allegations. Fortunately, with an experienced license lawyer, you can fight the accusations against you and protect your practice and license.
Mitigating and Aggravating Factors that can Result in Disciplinary Action against a Respiratory Therapist
When faced with any professional accusations, a professional license attorney will commit to fight them on your behalf and defeat them. Many times, victory can be achieved without the need for a formal hearing or before an allegation is presented to the board. Other times, when you submit your side of the story, the board may find the accusations baseless with no evidence that warrants you to get disciplined.
At times, however, avoiding disciplinary action against you may be impossible. However, you can get lesser penalties when your lawyer argues your case and presents a convincing argument. When you receive lower penalties or disciplinary action than you expected, that is a victory too.
For instance, you may be accused of a significant allegation that calls for the revocation of your license. However, with the help of your lawyer, you fight the claim leading to a stay of the revocation but getting issued with license probation. Although you still get disciplined, the consequences are way less compared to those of getting your license revoked.
Your lawyer can still fight for you to get a shorter period of probation with mild conditions. The fine amount can also be argued down. All these are possible and a better form of punishment as opposed to having your license revoked. A revocation means that you will never practice respiratory therapy again. It is not a good thing to end your career when you worked hard to get it.
Your lawyer can also challenge the citation issued to you or the disciplinary action taken by the board against you. If this appeal is successful, you stand to save your career from the destruction of disciplinary action.
If you get a hearing before the administrative judge, he or she will use the disciplinary guidelines provided by the board to discipline you. Additionally, the judge will consider if there were any mitigating or aggravating factors to the offense before making a judgment.
Some of the aggravating factors considered include:
If the patient suffered actual harm
If there was a possibility of damage occurring
If the employer’s or patient’s trust was violated
If your record consists of any prior violations
If you have a habit of repeating the same violation, you are charged with
If you committed any offense when a minor was present
If you have any felony or misdemeanor conviction in your criminal background that relates to your qualifications or duties
Mitigating factors regarding your offense may include:
If you acknowledge your wrongs or the mistakes you made
If you took corrective measure to prevent the incident from occurring again
If you did not intentionally commit the violation
If you made a report to the board directly for the violation
A significant period has gone by without repeating the violation
You have no prior disciplinary or criminal history
You have taken measures towards rehabilitation
Your actions did not cause anybody harm, and they are unlikely to happen again
Your lawyer understands the rules in providing evidence and the administrative process. They will also fight effectively to ensure the allegations against you are dismissed. Your lawyer will even know when he or she should negotiate to get you a favorable outcome.
If you applied for a license and it got denied, your license lawyer will help you in satisfying the requirements of the board to get your application approved. If the license is already revoked, your lawyer can petition to get it reinstated and represent you during a hearing of the same.
Common Allegations against Respiratory Therapists
Many licensed professionals run their own business in California. This is no different from professional respiratory therapists who primarily operate sole practices. Even when legally registered as a limited company or corporation, they still work just like an independent expert. Because of the independent way of operation, they face many complaints from their clients that threaten their practices. Some of the common allegations against respiratory practitioners include:
A licensed respiratory practitioner runs the risk of being accused of billing fraud, irrespective of whether it was deliberate or an honest mistake. A client can complain that you billed them for services you never rendered. Using the wrong billing code can also result in your being accused of billing fraud. This is a criminal offense that can get into your professional as well as a criminal record.
If a client brings this complaint against you to the respiratory care board, an investigation will start into your practice or license. Unfortunately, disciplinary action can be taken at any time by the board. Billing fraud, unfortunately, will trigger many other investigations into your practice. The police will carry their research as well as the insurance company.
When one is faced with all these investigations, it becomes challenging for them to handle and can further incriminate themselves without knowing. For this reason, having a lawyer represent you during the investigation and hearing is crucial to saving your license and practice. Find a lawyer that understands the criminal implications and licensing consequences of the allegations.
Your lawyer will look at the evidence presented, the circumstances of the allegations and come up with an appropriate defense. With proper defense, you can defend your license from revocation and avoid criminal penalties altogether.
As a respiratory therapist, your client can accuse you of substance abuse to the board. This is a serious allegation that can cost you your license and practice. When a patient smells alcohol in you or you seem impaired, he or she can report you to the board. When this gets done, investigations into your conduct begin. If you are found to be an addict of alcohol or drugs, your license may get revoked or put on probation at best until you get treatment.
The most probable disciplinary action would be to revoke your license. When accused of substance abuse, it means you carry out your duties while impaired. Respiratory therapists get charged with very sensitive responsibilities that a small mistake can cost a patient their life. For this reason, the board whose principal mandate is to protect the public from unfair or dangerous practice may temporarily put your license on hold as they carry out investigations.
A professional license attorney who is familiar with criminal law can represent you, and if the allegations are based on falsehoods, he or she can argue your case to save your license. Some of the defenses your attorney may present are:
You have an underlying medical condition that manifests its symptoms similar to those of a person impaired such as diabetes
You were fatigued because you worked long hours but not intoxicated
You smelt alcohol because you took a single glass of wine with your lunch, but you were not beyond the legal limit
These defenses, among others accompanied by evidence, can save your license, and you keep doing what you love.
Many professionals get accused of sexual misconduct. Although some allegations are true, many are based on falsehoods and will cost a practitioner their license, if not well defended. Patients can be overly demanding, and when you deny them what they want, they can formulate a way to get you in trouble.
One of the common ways of seeking vengeance is by bringing sexual misconduct accusations against the practitioner. The board’s mandate is not to the practitioner but the patient. As such, they will not take the allegations lightly but will investigate to establish the truth. Defending yourself against these allegations is the best way to avoid losing your practice or license.
Your lawyer will carry out investigations into the patient’s character and if they have made similar allegations before. Other patients that you have treated may be called in to testify on your behalf and professional conduct. Your attorney will present evidence of the false allegations and get you possibly acquitted of the charges.
You must remember that sexual misconduct will expose you to both criminal and professional investigations. Do not allow false allegations to cost you your license and even legal penalties. Instead, involve a lawyer to defend you against these accusations.
Find a San Diego Professional License Defense Attorney Near Me
Getting a professional license is not an easy thing. You can work so hard in school and pass all your tests and still get your license denied due to a past criminal record or many other reasons. This is devastating, but the board’s decision can be challenged and get your license back. Despite your best efforts, you can be accused of any type of misconduct by a vengeful patient, which can cost you your hard-earned license. When faced with any allegations that threaten your respiratory therapist’s license, you need to engage an experienced attorney. We invite you to contact the San Diego License Attorney at 619-728-7448 to help you in all professional license services.