Becoming a licensed paramedic or emergency medical technician (EMT) in California is a rigorous process, to say the least. The educational, hands-on training, physical fitness, mental alertness, and other qualifications are extremely demanding, ferreting out the less motivated and those not up to the task. And a complex, tedious, and expensive process for obtaining your paramedic or EMT state-issued license is then added on top of all the other requirements.
But unfortunately, it is much easier to lose one's paramedic license than it is to obtain it. There are a wide range of possible violations (or mere allegations of such violations) that can lead to disciplinary action being taken by the California Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) or by your local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agency.
You cannot afford to risk losing your professional license and your livelihood by failing to secure the services of an experienced paramedics and emergency medical technicians license attorney. Only an attorney who understands the nuances of this very specialized practice area can help you through the administrative process initiated by the EMSA/EMS, while preventing or minimizing any negative impacts on your license and on your professional reputation.
To learn more, contact California License Attorney at 888-959-0068 anytime 24/7/365 and we will give your case immediate attention.
The Critical Roles Filled by Paramedics and EMTs
Medical emergencies are unpredictable, and in most such emergency situations, it will be paramedics and EMTs who are the first responders at the scene of an accident or other medical emergency where life and limb hang in the balance.
Many times, people don't fully appreciate the heroic and trying duties that emergency response personnel perform on a routine basis. You are taken for granted, until anything goes wrong. Then, suddenly, you could be facing a lawsuit, a criminal charge, or the loss of your license.
Every administration of a drug or medical procedure to a patient, every decision you make, even in the most trying of circumstances, binds you legally and ethically to the highest of standards. You are expected to quickly assess the most chaotic of situations, take charge fast, make the best possible decisions for the life and safety of others, and document all of your actions accurately. You must also keep up with the most recent changes in medicines, procedures, and laws that affect your role.
In the midst of it all, you are putting your life on the line to save others. Yet, even a single mistake or oversight, and your whole career could be threatened.
Another issue is the confusion, in the public mind, over the role distinctions of paramedics versus EMTs. Emergency medical technicians are trained for the primary purpose of assisting paramedics and doctors, and they have some limits as to the kinds of surgeries and other actions they are qualified to perform. This, unfortunately, often leads to accusations of inaction when, in fact, the EMT did all he or she was supposed to do and knew how to do.
Paramedics often perform invasive surgeries, while EMTs focus more on taking vital signs, interviewing victims, providing immediate life support, transporting victims to the ER, and reporting their assessments and actions to hospital workers so they can quickly pick up where the EMT left off. Additionally, EMTs often work as adjuncts on local police and fire departments.
At California License Attorney, we have great respect for the paramedics and EMTs who serve our state. We are not here to judge you for a mistake you made or an addiction you may have. We are here to help you defend your license and get back into action responsibly serving our communities and keeping us safe.
An EMSA Investigation or Even Professional Discipline Need Not End Your Career
In recent years, we have seen hundreds of complaints filed against paramedics and EMTs in California every single year. Part of the high numbers stem from the relatively recent requirement that all EMTs be subject to DOJ and FBI criminal background checks and that any future arrests be quickly announced to the local EMS agency.
Part of it also stems from the very nature of being a paramedic/EMT. But the background check rule often makes it difficult for licenses to be renewed or puts licenses at risk of being revoked. Indeed, around 2/3 of license-related complaints against emergency medical workers relate to a criminal allegation/conviction.
About a third of complaints have to do with such alleged violations as drug/alcohol abuse, fraudulently obtaining the currently held license, performing acts outside of one's expertise and area of authority, dishonest or fraudulent acts closely related to one's pre-hospital medical duties, mistreatment or abuse of patients, on-the-job sexual misconduct, and violating the confidentiality of patients' medical data.
Two other common charges are:
- Gross negligence: This is defined as departing from the accepted standard of care in an extreme way so as to endanger or actually harm a patient. It involves doing what a "reasonable person" in a similar situation would not have done.
- Incompetence: This charge means the lack of the skills, knowledge, or physical abilities necessary to perform the duties of a paramedic or EMT. The failure to demonstrate competence on the job or the discovery of a lack of the proper educational background could lead to this allegation.
When complaints and formal accusations of such magnitude come against a conscientious paramedic or EMT, it is easy to see how he/she would assume there is no hope and simply walk away from his/her career. That is what many emergency workers, in fact, do when they are arrested for DUI off-duty or are facing an administrative hearing and possible license revocation for some other charge.
But the fact is that trouble with the EMSA or EMS need not be career-ending. First of all, an investigation may not lead to any action at all being taken against you. And a skilled license defense attorney can work to present mitigating factors in your favor at your hearing or negotiate before or during the hearing for a favorable plea.
We at California License Attorney have defended many EMTs and paramedics in cases that cover the full spectrum of possible accusations. We know how to avoid administrative actions where possible and how to gain reduced discipline, probation, fines and citations only while retaining your license, or a shortened suspension period when such are the best possible outcomes.
Possible Disciplinary Actions of the EMSA
The EMSA can take a number of different disciplinary actions against your license at the administrative hearing. The investigation may or may not continue long enough for there even to be a hearing. Ideally, we can work to undermine evidence brought against you and present factors in your favor when the formal accusation is issued or even before, and see the allegation dropped or a favorable settlement reached.
But, if we do go to the administrative hearing, the least serious form of discipline possible would be a citation with accompanying fine. Depending on the nature of the violation and the details of your case, this fine could range anywhere from $250 to $2,500. These fines must normally be paid by the 60th day following the EMSA notice of the fine being imposed. However, we can negotiate for up to a full year to pay the fine by presenting evidence of financial hardship where applicable.
Note that fines and/or probation as a minimal form of discipline are only options in cases where violations did not lead to a patient actually suffering harm. And you cannot normally have both a fine and a license suspension for the same offense.
Citations will go on the public record of the EMSA website and can be viewed by potential employers. Thus, it is worthwhile to fight a citation/fine, though this is the lowest level of EMSA action.
The next level of action after the fine/citation is probation. When your license is on probation, you are too. Your career depends on understanding and 100% complying with all conditions of probation imposed by the board.
Probationary terms can be negotiated, and we know how to work to reduce them as much as possible. We can also assist you in understanding what exactly will be required of you under probation and what would be the result of a potential probation violation. Finally, we can work to reduce the number of years during which your probation must continue.
If the allegation against you is or includes substance abuse, it is normally possible to get the license suspension stayed and, pending your completion of an approved drug or alcohol program, get you license probation for 3 to 5 years. That is not ideal, but it is much better than simply losing your license.
Finally, a suspension or revocation of your professional license is the most severe possible professional discipline the board can impose. But even here, we can fight to reduce the length of the suspension if it can't be prevented. And our team of experienced license defense lawyers also know how to guide you through the process of getting a suspended/revoked license reinstated.
The EMSA "Recommended Guidelines"
EMSA publishes a standard guide for the administrative law judge (ALJ) presiding over your administrative hearing to follow. It is called Recommended Guidelines for Disciplinary Orders and Conditions of Probation.
This guidebook spells out the various offenses, per California Health and Safety Code Section 1798.200 and other related statutes, that can be the cause of a disciplinary action against you. It also lists recommended actions for each scenario.
But remember that the ALJ can hear mitigating evidence in your favor and deviate from the "standard" recommendations to allow a settlement both parties are amenable to. The guidelines are important because they tell you the usual disciplinary actions, but they are still only guides.
Factors the EMSA guidelines instruct the ALJ to take into account include:
- The nature/severity of the accusation.
- Whether or not any actual harm resulted from the violation.
- The potential harm that could have occurred.
- The existence/not of previous violations and warnings or of multiple current violations.
- The existence/not of a criminal record, how long ago the crime was committed, and whether or not court-imposed probation terms were followed.
- Any aggravating or mitigating evidence.
- In substance abuse cases, whether or not the offender has gone through rehab.
- Whether/not the employer of the paramedic or EMT has already imposed disciplinary measures. If so, this discipline will be "credited" thus reducing the EMSA discipline to a degree.
At California License Attorney, we understand the way the EMSA/EMS disciplinary system works and can fight to obtain for you the least severe possible disciplinary action. We know both how to argue and fight for an acquittal and how to negotiate effectively in your best interests. And we understand the special rules of evidence and the procedural rules so that we know when it is best to follow each of these two approaches.
Contact Us Today for Immediate Assistance
At California License Attorney, we have deep expertise in defending those with paramedics and emergency medical technicians licenses against board-initiated actions. We have successfully handled numerous cases in this practice area, covering the full range of possible case-types.
And we pair our experience and detailed knowledge of the EMS Act in Division 2.5 of the California Health and Safety Code, the Title 22 regulations on pre-hospital emergency medical services, the Paramedic Discipline Statute, and other relevant laws and standards, with a dedication to serving the best interests of each and every client.
We keep ourselves available to answer your call 24/7 365 days a year. Call us today at 888-959-0068 for a free consultation on the details of your situation or for answer to your important questions. We are standing by to help.