Each year, the Board of Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensers in California, receives hundreds of complaints. These include public complaints, mandated self-reports, required reports from the courts, as well as reports from the other licensing boards.
If you’re an audiologist, hearing aid dispenser, or speech-language pathologist facing an investigation by the board or disciplinary action, reach out to an attorney as soon as you can. If you are in San Diego, CA, lawyers from the San Diego License Attorney have the resources and experience to provide you with expert representation, so you don’t get punished. Contact us as soon as a complaint is issued against you so we can launch our investigation right away to get all the facts we need to solve your case. This article focuses on the roles of speech-language pathologists, hearing aid dispensers, and audiologists, the violations that can make them lose their licenses, the disciplinary actions they may face, and what we can do to help them.
What Do Speech-Language Pathologists Do?
Speech-language pathologists are usually known as, in simple terms, speech therapists. They provide invaluable help to people whose ability to speak is distorted by a variety of disorders. Many people take the ability to speak and hear for granted. However, several people out here do struggle to have the capability of communicating on even basic levels. It’s the work of a speech-language pathologist to intervene by lending them their expertise.
Speech-language pathologists work with individuals to assist them in issues to do with pronunciation, fluency, rhythm, and any other disorders. Also, they may be required to help clients adjust a regional/foreign accent.
For you to get a license to practice speech-language pathology, you have to go through extensive learning and practical training. The effort, expenses, and time you invest are significant even before attending to your first client. Yet, it’s too simple to unexpectedly have your career jeopardized because of a complaint that might not be valid after all.
An Audiologist’s Role
If you are an audiologist, your job is diagnosing and treating several hearing issues. When a person notices changes in his/her hearing, or if he/she fears he/she may lose his/her hearing completely, it’s you that the person will turn to for assistance.
Apart from hearing conditions, an audiologist also specializes in treating problems correlated to balance since, considering how our bodies have been constructed, hearing relates to balance.
Your commitment, training, and education, enabled you to be a licensed audiologist, and you, at all times, strive to offer the highest level of service. However, it’s not uncommon at all for a patient or someone else to file a complaint against you, which may lead to your career being jeopardized.
What Hearing Aid Dispensers Do
When an accident, chronic condition, or old age, results in a person’s hearing to be impaired, that person could need the services of hearing aid so they can continue functioning and enjoying life in the manner they previously did.
It’s your job as a hearing aid dispenser to diagnose what level of the loss of hearing is involved in a patient and recommend the ideal hearing aids that’ll help restore the patient’s hearing. For you to be able to do this, you need to be well-conversant with the various options of hearing aids available today and be capable of talking to the patient concerning the characteristics of every aid and which could be ideal for them.
However, during your practice, it’s quite simple for a few of your patients to be discontented with the outcome of their hearing aid. In other cases, your patient may allege that you misdiagnosed him/her. It’s not uncommon to find yourself facing a formal complaint that may threaten your career.
If you hold a license as a speech-language pathologist, hearing aid dispenser, or audiologist in California and your professional reputation or license is facing a threat, it will be best if you quickly contact a skilled license defense lawyer.
The California Board in charge of speech-language Pathologists, audiologists, and hearing aid dispensers takes complaints against license holders very seriously. It can impose license suspensions, revocations, and other kinds of professional disciplinary measures that could affect your career going forward. An expert license lawyer may be capable of fighting for you and obtaining the best probable outcome for your case. The attorney may also manage to protect your professional license and livelihood so you can continue practicing your career even when you are under investigation.
The Duty of The Board of Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology, and Hearing Aid Dispenser in California
The board in charge of speech-language pathologists, audiologists, & hearing aid dispenser professionals was established not because of the license holders, but for protecting patients plus the public in general against unsafe and substandard practices.
When receiving a complaint against you in written or through their website of consumer affairs, the board is neither against you, nor does it favor you. However, considering its mission statement, it’s only expected if they too easily trust the complaints and fail to notice the factors and proof that favors those who are complained against.
At the San Diego License Attorney, we will fully fight in your favor. We present all mitigating and exculpatory testimony and proof that will help you in obtaining the best possible outcome for your case. Our attorneys know how they can effectively communicate and negotiate with the board when necessary to do so.
The board has maintained several disciplinary rules which it has posted online. It recommends these disciplinary guidelines for use by administrative laws judges who solve the hearings that are associated with any accusations or complaints against the accused. These rules are utilized as general standards in instilling discipline. However, mitigating and aggravating factors (introduced by the defense and prosecution, respectively) may lower or increase the discipline that the accused receives for a given offense.
Possible violations by speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and hearing aid dispensers that may result in the enforcement of discipline include:
Substance abuse, particularly if it’s committed during working hours and while attending to a patient
Allowing unlicensed assistants to work under your supervision where that’s not legal
Misleading or false advertising practices
Getting paid or paying for referrals
Failing to provide treatment or showing incompetence or ordinary or gross negligence in rendering the treatment
Getting bribed for recommending given hearing aids types
Facing professional discipline from the licensing board of another state
Having a previous record of a criminal conviction in the areas that are significantly related to the qualifications and duties of your work
Violation of the required professional experience regulations
Possible types of discipline that the board can enforce are:
Citation and Citation & fine are the least kind of discipline you can face. However, sometimes fines can be higher. On the other hand, a citation is usually posted publicly, which may affect your capability of gaining new patients. Therefore, it is also worth fighting not to face a citation.
Public reprimand- Facing public reprimand is more like having a citation without the fine. It’s posted publicly on the website of the consumer affairs of the board, where any potential client could see it.
Suspension or revocation- Either a suspension or revocation of your professional license will deny you the right to keep on practicing your profession in California State. The difference between a suspension and revocation is that a revocation lasts for an unspecified period while a suspension goes for a definite period, for instance, months or years.
Stay of revocation plus probation- Your license being on probation isn’t the best outcome, but at least it prevents a license revocation and permits you to carry on with practicing your career. Specific conditions of probation will apply when facing this disciplinary action. Violating any of the probationary conditions may lead to revocation of your license and other disciplinary measures.
Our attorneys are conversant with the inner operations of the process of administration. They know how they can contest the charges you are facing and how to negotiate for lesser forms of discipline convincingly, when necessary.
The Process, From the Launching of a Complaint to the Final Decision
Anybody can launch a complaint to the board in charge of speech-language pathologists, audiologists, & hearing aid dispenser professionals. However, an actual investigation can only commence in case the board doesn’t immediately drop the accusation against you as unsubstantiated. Also, the board will prioritize complaints brought to them so that they can start looking into more severe charges first.
Should a complaint appear to be credible before the board, it may perform a sting operation to acquire more proof against the licensee in question. Alternatively, it may conduct an investigation for a given period but eventually conclude there isn’t sufficient proof to proceed with the case.
In case an investigation commenced against you, the board will serve you a Notice of Investigation. After you receive this notice, you should contact an experienced license defense attorney immediately and not speak with the investigator or the board until you first talk with your attorney. Our attorneys can move swiftly to follow up on the Investigation Notice with a Defense Notice before the timeframe runs out.
Also, we can fight temporary suspension that the board may have imposed on your license. You can’t afford to not work during the entire investigation period because it can sometimes take several months or years for the investigation to end.
In case the board gets convinced that they have an actual case, they’ll issue you with a Formal Accusation with a Statement of Issues. Our attorneys can scrutinize this document thoroughly, and then utilize the opportunity the board allows them to their advantage to counter every charge you are facing at this step of the process. A dismissal or settlement may occur at this stage. If this happens, it eliminates the need to have an administrative hearing.
If it’s mandatory for a hearing to take place, our lawyers will be well-prepared for everything involved. We will present witnesses to testify in favor of you, cross-examine the eyewitnesses that are against you, challenge the proof of the prosecutor, and present mitigating and exculpatory evidence that will help in winning a reduction in discipline level or an acquittal altogether.
If the accusations against you are dismissed during the administrative hearing, your case will have reached an end. And, there won’t be any public record concerning the proceeding for your clients to see. If you are subjected to formal discipline, then you will have thirty days to bring an appeal. If your discipline involves a citation and you want to appeal it, you will have only fifteen days to do so.
Criminal Convictions Could Affect Your Professional License
As we mentioned earlier, the Board of the Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology, and Hearing Aid Dispensers has the power to impose disciplinary measures based on any previous criminal conviction that you have (felony or misdemeanor) on your record.
If your prior conviction were of an offense that is considered to be significantly associated with your qualifications and duties as an audiologist, hearing aid dispenser, or speech-language pathologist, the licensing board would take action. Examples of offenses that the licensing board considers to be so significantly related to the qualifications or duties of an audiologist, speech-language pathologist, or hearing aid dispenser include:
DUID or DUI
Alcohol/drug addiction or abuse
Petty or grand theft
Possession of controlled substances (simple possession)
Possession controlled substances for sale
The moment the police press any criminal charge against you, and even before you are convicted, the board might give an order requesting the court or judge to place different restrictions on the license you hold. The restrictions can come in three forms:
License restriction can be ordered to be part of any sentencing in case your trial ends with a conviction.
The board may request license restriction as a requirement of qualifying for being released on bail. The board can do this if it fears that you will use your license to carry out unsafe practices after being released from jail.
The board could also order that your professional license gets suspended through court order until after the trial for your case concludes.
Our lawyers will bring a response for any order that the board issued to the judge/court. Additionally, they will present arguments that favor you at any of the special hearings the judge might hold to decide how he/she can answer to the requests of the board.
Also, our attorneys can work to make sure you retain your license regardless of any plea bargain in which your criminal charges may end.
Having Your License Reinstated or Approved
Should you be facing challenges when trying to have the application of your license approved, our lawyers may be able to help you throughout the process. In case your license application has been denied already, we can assist you with filing an appeal or working to fulfill the demands of the board and get final approval. Regardless of the issues that the board might have with the application of your license, it can often be resolved even if it means commencing your career while your license is on probation.
In case you’ve lost your professional license already due to a prior violation, do not assume that’s final. You can have the license reinstated if you know the process of filing the right paperwork promptly and fight to defeat any legal barriers that may arise in the process. Our lawyer can assist you through the legal procedure of filing the petition to reinstate the license.
Note that the procedures and rules involved in filing the petition can be quite complex, and a single misstep can have the petition declined. For instance, this petition has stringent timeframes. Therefore, you should make sure you file within the stipulated time limits for it to be considered. We understand the process of filing the paperwork. We also know how to prove that you’re rehabilitated and are ready to start practicing your career again. Additionally, we know how we can effectively argue at any special hearing that the board might hold to decide the results of the petition to reinstate your license.
Find a Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology, and Hearing Aid Dispenser License Defense Attorney Near Me
While every case is unique, it’s generally advisable to seek legal counsel before you respond to the investigator from the board or their request for info. Providing evidence or documents, answering questions, or consenting to undertake any other action without legal counsel could be risky. Since you are a licensed hearing aid dispenser, audiologist, or speech-language pathologist, you have essential constitutional and statutory rights. Seeking legal advice from a skilled lawyer as soon as possible helps you to safeguard your reputation as well as your career. If you are in San Diego, CA, and you are on the verge of losing your license, reach out to attorneys at San Diego License Attorney at 619-728-7448. We will do all we can to help you keep your license and maintain your reputation.