If you are a licensed speech-language pathologist, audiologist, or hearing aid dispenser in the state of California and your license or professional reputation is under threat due to a complaint filed against you, it is in your best interest to quickly avail yourself of the services of an experienced license defense attorney.
The Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology, & Hearing Aid Dispensers Board of California takes complaints very seriously and can issue license revocations, suspensions, and other forms of professional discipline that would affect your future career. A skilled license attorney will be able to fight for and obtain the best possible outcome to your case and protect your license and your livelihood.
At California License Attorney, we stand ready 24/7 to take your call and address your concerns. Contact us anytime at 888-959-0068 for a free, no-obligation consultation, and we will immediately give attention to your case.
The Role of a Speech-Language Pathologist
Often referred to as simply speech therapists, speech-language pathologists provide invaluable assistance to those whose speaking ability is impaired by a wide range of disorders. Most of us take speaking and hearing for granted, but many struggle with the ability to communicate on even a basic level, and it is the job of speech-language pathologists to step in and lend them your expertise.
As a speech-language pathologist, you work with people to help them in pronunciation, rhythm, fluency, and other disorders. You also may be called upon to help a client adjust a foreign/regional accent.
To gain your license, you had to undergo extensive education and hands-on training. The time, effort, and expense invested is great even before you see your first patient. Yet, it is all too easy to suddenly see your career placed on the line due to a complaint, which may not even be valid.
The Role of an Audiologist
As an audiologist, it is your task to diagnose and treat numerous hearing problems. When people notice a change in their hearing or fear they may lose their hearing entirely, it is you they come to for help.
In addition to hearing conditions, you also specialize in treating balance problems since hearing is closely related to balance in the way our bodies are constructed.
Your education, training, and commitment earned you a California audiologist license. And you always strive to render the highest levels of service. But it is not at all uncommon for a complaint to be filed against an audiologist and for his or her career to be put in jeopardy.
The Role of a Hearing Aid Dispenser
When old age, an accident, or a chronic condition causes one's hearing to become impaired, they could well need a hearing aid to allow them to continue to function and enjoy life the way they had previously.
It is your job to diagnose the level of hearing loss involved and to recommend the best possible hearing aids that will restore a patient's hearing. You must be very familiar with the plethora of hearing aid options now available and be able to talk to your patients about the features of each and which one is right for them.
In the course of your practice, however, it is easy for a patient to become dissatisfied with the results of his/her hearing aid or to accuse you of a misdiagnosis. It is not at all infrequent for a hearing aid dispenser to find himself facing a career-threatening formal complaint.
The Mission of the California Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology, & Hearing Aid Dispensers Board
The California Board of Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology, and Hearing Aid Dispensers exists not for the sake of licensees but for the purpose of protecting patients and the general public against unsafe of sub-standard practice.
They are not "on your side" nor "against you" when they receive a complaint in written form or via their consumer affairs website. But given their mission statement, it is only natural if they tend to too easily believe complaints and overlook evidence and factors in the favor of those complained against.
We at California License Attorney are 100% fighting in your corner. We bring all exculpatory and mitigating evidence and testimony to bear in order to win you the best outcome to your case. We know how to communicate with the board and how to negotiate with them effectively when necessary.
The board maintains a set of official disciplinary guidelines, posted online, which they recommend for the use of administrative law judges (ALJs) who handle hearings related to any complaints or accusations against you. This set of "rules" is used a general standard in administering discipline, but aggravating and mitigating factors (presented by the prosecution and defense, respectively) can increase or lessen the discipline received for a particular offense.
Some possible violations for which discipline might be enforced include:
- Substance abuse, especially if committed while on the job and treating a patient.
- Insurance fraud.
- Unprofessional conduct.
- Letting unlicensed assistants work under you where that is not legal.
- Paying or getting paid for referrals.
- Getting "kickbacks" for recommending certain types of hearing aids.
- False or misleading advertising practices.
- Gross negligence, ordinary negligence, or incompetence in rendering treatment or failing to render it.
- Having past criminal conviction on your record in areas that "substantially relate to" the tasks and qualifications of your job.
- Being under professional discipline by the licensing board of another state.
Possible forms of professional discipline the board could enforce include:
- Citation and fine. This is the lowest form of discipline, but fines can sometimes be high and the citation is often publicly posted, which could affect your ability to gain new patients. Thus, even a citation is well worth fighting.
- Public reprimand. This is much like a citation minus the fine. It is publicly posted on the board's consumer affairs website, where potential clients can see it.
- Revocation or suspension. Either a revocation or suspension of your license will take away your right to continue your practice in California. The difference is that a suspension is for a specified period of time, whereas, a revocation is effective indefinitely.
- Stay of revocation with probation. License probation is not an ideal outcome, but it at least avoids a revocation and allows you to continue your practice. Certain probation conditions will apply, and violating any one of them could result in revocation or other disciplinary actions.
At California License Attorney, we understand the inner workings of the administrative process. We know how to challenge the charges against you and how, when necessary, to effectively negotiate for a lesser form of discipline.
From Complaint to Final Decision
Anyone can register a complaint with the California Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology, and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board. But a real investigation will only occur if the board does not immediately dismiss the complaints as "unsubstantiated." They will also prioritize complaints so as to look into more serious charges first.
If a complaint seems credible to the board, they may conduct a sting operation against the relevant licensee to gain more evidence. They may, on the other hand, investigate for a while but ultimately conclude there isn't enough evidence to proceed.
If an investigation begins against you, you will be served a Notice of Investigation. You should immediately contact a good license defense lawyer after receiving this notice and not talk to the board or an investigator until first speaking with your lawyer. We can move quickly to follow the Notice of Investigation up with a Notice of Defense before the time limit runs out.
We can also fight any interim suspension that may have been issued against you. You cannot afford to be shut down during the whole investigation period since these can sometimes last months or even years.
If the board is convinced they have a real case, they will then issue a Formal Accusation with a Statement of Issues. We can examine this document closely and take advantage of the opportunity allowed us by the board to counter each issue leveled against you at this stage in the process. It is possible a settlement or a dismissal could occur here and avoid the need for a hearing.
If an administrative hearing must take place, we will be thoroughly prepared for it. We will cross-examine witnesses against you, bring forward witnesses in your favor, challenge the evidence of the prosecution, and present exculpatory and mitigating evidence to help win an acquittal or reduction in level of discipline.
If the accusation is dismissed at the hearing, that is the end of it. And there will be no public record of the proceedings for clients to view. If you do receive formal discipline, you have 30 days to file an appeal. You have only 15 days to appeal a citation.
How Criminal Convictions Can Affect Your License
As mentioned above, the licensing board has authority to take disciplinary actions based on your having a prior criminal conviction (misdemeanor or felony) on your police record.
If the crime is of such a nature as to be deemed "substantially related to" your duties or qualifications as a speech-language pathologist, audiologist, or hearing aid dispenser, the board will act.
Examples of crimes that the board considers are or may be so substantially related are as follows:
- Drug/alcohol abuse or addiction.
- DUI or DUID.
- Grand or petty theft.
- Insurance fraud.
- Simple possession of a controlled substance.
- Possession for sale of a controlled substance.
- Domestic violence.
- Sexual battery.
When a criminal charge is made against you, even before any conviction, the board may issue an order that requests the court to put various restrictions on your license. These can be of three kinds:
- License restrictions may be requested as a condition of even qualifying for bail. This is done because the board fears the licensee will conduct unsafe practice once he/she gets out of jail.
- License restrictions may be requested to be included in any sentencing if the trial ends in a conviction.
- The board may also request that your license be suspended by court-order pending the conclusion of the trial.
At California License Attorney, we will file a written response to any order issued by the board to the court and will argue in your favor at any special hearing the judge may hold to determine how to respond to the board's requests.
We can also work to ensure you keep your license in any plea deal that your criminal case may end in.
Getting Your License Approved or Reinstated
If you are having trouble getting your license application approved, we can assist you through the process. If your application has already been denied, we can help you file an appeal and/or work to satisfy the board's demands and gain final approval. Whatever issue the board may have with your application, it can usually be solved, even if that means (at worst) beginning your career with your license on probation.
If you have already lost your license for a past violation, we can help you file the petition for reinstatement. The rules and procedures involved can be complex, and one misstep can get your petition turned down. We understand how to file the paperwork, how to present evidence you are rehabilitated and ready to begin your practice again, and how to argue effectively at a special hearing the board may hold to determine the outcome of your petition for reinstatement.
Contact Us Today for Help
At California License Attorney, we understand the issues surrounding a complaint or formal accusation against your speech-language pathology, audiology, or hearing aid dispenser license. And we are fully familiar with the laws, regulations, and administrative process that apply in these situations.
Our team of experienced license defense attorneys have successfully handled many cases just like yours in the past, and we know how to build a solid defense and protect your license and your livelihood.
To learn more or for a free consultation, contact us 24/7/365 by calling 888-959-0068.