If you are facing an investigation or formal accusation that threatens your California physical therapist license, you should waste no time in contacting us at California License Attorney for immediate assistance. The Physical Therapy Board of California is very serious and strict in enforcing its standards on the industry, and only the knowledge and experience of a professional license defense attorney will put you in a good position to defeat or at least minimize any repercussions affecting your career.
At California License Attorney, we understand how easy it is to make one mistake and how easy it is for a false or misleading complaint to be filed against you via the board's consumer protection website.
If you are facing a challenge to your license and your livelihood, contact us anytime 24/7/365 at 888-959-0068 for assistance. The sooner you act, the greater your chances of winning a favorable outcome.
The Critical Roles Filled by California Physical Therapists
When accidental injuries affect the ability of thousands of Californians to perform basic functions and carry on with daily tasks, the situation might well seem hopeless. When chronic conditions limit mobility, cause severe pain, and make general health and fitness difficult to maintain, some might be tempted to give up. But that is where physical therapists step in and make a difference.
Physical therapists train for five years or more, earn a master's degree, and become experts in such subjects as bio-mechanics and neuro-anatomy. They gain hands on training and attain to high levels of expertise before even beginning their practice. Both federal and state-level license exams, continued education, and many other requirements make this a challenging profession to enter and remain in.
But even after persevering through the training and going through the license application process, it is all too easy for a formal complaint to be filed against you that could threaten your career.
Patients and their families often have high, sometimes unrealistic, expectations concerning physical therapists. And even when you do everything right, to the very best of your ability, it is possible that some patients will not progress as had been hoped. And it is also very easy for even well trained, conscientious physical therapists to make a mistake.
At California License Attorney, we appreciate and understand the roles that our state's physical therapists fill. And we also understand the administrative process, from beginning to end and in all its details, of the Physical Therapy Board of California. We know how to effectively challenge complaints and accusations against you and how to negotiate for a favorable settlement when necessary.
Disciplinary Guidelines of the Physical Therapy Board of California
The California Board of Physical Therapy's mission is to protect patients and the general public and ensure the caliber of physical therapy rendered in California is second to none. Specifically, the board holds all professional physical therapists in the state accountable to the Physical Therapy Practice Act, the Business and Professions Code, and other regulations to ensure safe, competent practice prevails.
To accomplish its goals, the Physical Therapy Board restricts licenses issued, revokes/suspends existing licenses, puts licensees on probation, and takes various other forms of disciplinary action when deemed necessary. Their online disciplinary guidelines detail their recommendations to administrative law judges (ALJs) presiding over hearings that deal with alleged violations by physical therapy license holders.
Some of the most common violations for which a disciplinary action may be issued include the following:
- Substance abuse or addiction. This is especially egregious if it occurs while the therapist is on the job.
- Convictions or arrests for misdemeanors or felonies that are "substantially related to" your ability to safely perform your practice.
- Obtaining one's physical therapy license by fraud.
- Insurance fraud, charging for services not rendered, and other forms of fraud.
- Charging or paying for referrals.
- False or misleading advertising.
- Unprofessional conduct.
- Having a DUI incident, even if not during work hours.
- Excessive prescribing or treatment.
- Sexual misconduct related to patients and clients.
- Verbal abuse and sexual harassment.
- Physical abuse.
- Negligent or incompetent practice.
- Physical or mental inability to safely continue your practice.
- Giving out faulty nutritional advice.
- Overstepping the bounds of your license.
- Letting others work under you who are not properly licensed.
- Not supervising assistants properly.
- Failure to follow infection control guidelines.
- Failure to maintain professional or patient confidentiality.
- Failure/refusal to provide medical records.
- Falsifying, altering, or poorly keeping patient records.
- Violation of license probation conditions.
In many cases, complaints are unsubstantiated and do not even merit a board investigation. And most investigations end in the allegations being dismissed for lack of evidence. But you cannot afford to risk your license by "playing the odds." Almost any alleged violation potentially threatens license revocation as the maximum penalty.
Many times, we can gather and present exculpatory evidence before or during your administrative hearing to get the charges dismissed. Other times, the nature of the case demands we negotiate a favorable settlement that lets you keep you license. This often means a 30-day actual suspension and a three-year probationary period; but this is far better than simply losing your license and being forced to close down your practice.
If you do not file a "Notice of Defense" or appear (via your legal representative and/or personally) at your hearing, revocation is very likely. Otherwise, a dismissal or a stayed revocation with probation is often obtainable.
Probation may sometimes require an initial suspension period to ensure safe practice. A clinical diagnostic evaluation will be necessary in the case of alleged substance abuse. Physical or psychological exams, further education, and other stipulations may also be imposed before suspension can end and probation commence.
In cases where the board fears for the public safety, an interim suspension might be ordered during the investigation. We can often challenge these suspensions, however, to help you to be able to continue your work during the investigation (which sometimes can takes months or even years).
Probation also requires you to reimburse the board for the costs of the investigation and of probationary monitoring. If you cannot afford this, we can help you get up to a year to satisfy this "cost recovery" requirement. Be sure to make all payments on time since to fail to do so is counted as a probation violation.
Those with a substance abuse problem are typically ordered into a probation program. It is also possible to self-refer yourself into such a program. If you will likely be ordered onto probation anyway, self-referral can at least keep everything confidential.
Other Possible Board Actions
While revocation, suspension, and probation are three of the main possible disciplinary actions of the Board of Physical Therapy, they are not the only possibilities.
Two less severe actions that sometimes resolve a case are:
- Letters of Public Reprimand
- Citations and Fines
Under Business and Professions Code Section 495, the California Board of Physical Therapy can publicly reprove/reprimand any physical therapist or physical therapy assistant instead of issuing a suspension or revocation for a particular offense.
When an offense is an "isolated incident," far enough in the past without any repeated such offenses, unlikely to occur again, has been admitted to by the offender, the offender has shown remorse for the offense, and (if substance abuse is involved) the offender has taken part in a recovery program for a year or more, a letter of reprimand may take the place of other professional discipline.
This form of discipline is only used for relatively "minor" violations that have not resulted in a patient actually suffering harm. The physical therapist can simply agree to the letter of reprimand in a settlement deal; and/or, the board may create "stipulations" that the therapist must fulfill in order to avoid a harsher form of discipline. The letter is public in the sense it will be posted on the board's official website where potential clients and employers can easily access it.
Citations and accompanying fines are not considered actual discipline by the California Board of Physical Therapy, but to the license holder, it will certainly feel like discipline. Fines vary greatly in amount, ranging from $100 to $5,000.
Under Business and Professions Code Section 125.9, the board can deal with rather minor violations via citation and fine. The citation will be a matter of public record. Though not as egregious as a letter of public reprimand, it is still a mark on your record and well worth fighting with the help of an experienced license defense lawyer.
The citation and fine may also be accompanied by an "Order of Abatement," which requires you to cease the particular action for which the citation was issued.
Paying the fine does not necessarily mean you admit guilt in the matter, but it does treat the public record as if you had admitted it. Paying the fine and complying with the abatement order will certainly resolve the matter, though it could cause problems later on if another violation is alleged (since a violation on your record tends to make administrative law judges less prone to be lenient).
You could also fight the citation by requesting an informal conference or a formal administrative hearing. In that case, we can fight to get the citation dismissed and removed from your record or to at least get the fine amount lowered. Such appeals must take place within the prescribed time limits to be valid, however, and if you simply ignore the citation and do not pay the fine, you risk revocation of your license.
Denial of a License Application
Another area in which we at California License Attorney can assist you is in getting your license application approved. There may be something in your past criminal record or another issue slowing or blocking approval, but we can often gather additional documentation and help you successfully complete the process.
In some cases, the best possible outcome is to obtain an "initial probationary license" under Business and Professions Code Section 2660.5 instead of a simple denial. After you serve out your probationary period with sufficient hours worked and in full compliance to all conditions, you can continue to practice with an unfettered physical therapist's license.
We can help you appeal either a denial of a license or the issuance of a license with terms/conditions attached.
We can also help you get your license reinstated after a revocation. There will be a required waiting period, in that case, but by using that time to fully prepare to make the petition, you increase your chances of a quick reinstatement.
We at California License Attorney are here to guide you through the process of getting your license approved or reinstated from beginning to end. After so many years, so much effort, and so much expense in training for a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant role, you don't have to just sit on the sidelines and watch it all vanish into nothingness. There are ways to fight back and secure a decision that will let you continue or begin your physical therapy career.
Contact Us Today for Assistance
At California License Attorney, we have deep expertise in defending physical therapist licenses against the full spectrum of possible board actions for all manner of alleged violations.
Our team of well seasoned attorneys will know how to form the best possible defense strategy to protect your license, your professional reputation, and your future.
To learn more or for a free, no-obligation legal consultation, do not hesitate to call us 24/7 at 888-959-0068.