Occupational therapists play a vital role in the lives of millions of people with disabilities, injuries, and illnesses. In our state, occupational therapists and their assistants are regulated by the California Board of Occupational Therapy (CBOT). The CBOT is responsible for setting standards for the profession, granting licenses, and imposing discipline for violations of the professional standards for occupational therapists.
It can take years to become licensed as an occupational therapist. If a complaint is lodged against you, it can put your license in jeopardy – along with your ability to earn a living in your chosen profession. An experienced occupational therapy licensed defense lawyer can help to protect your rights and advocate for your interests if you have been accused of a violation of the laws and regulations for occupational therapists in California.
The Law Offices of Nicole Irmer represent occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals throughout California. We put together a comprehensive defense to allegations of misconduct, unprofessional behavior, and other issues. Reach out to our law firm today to talk to a member of our legal team about your occupational therapy licensing issue.
The disciplinary process for occupational therapists typically starts with a complaint, which may be filed by a member of the public, a patient or family member, a supervisor, a coworker, or an insurance company. In some cases, a government agency will notify the Board of Occupational Therapy of a potential violation of the Business and Professions Code (BPC) by a licensee.
Once the Board receives a complaint, they will issue an acknowledgment letter and open a file. After reviewing the nature and severity of the allegation, they will determine whether a formal investigation is warranted. If not, then they will handle the matter themselves. An informal investigation could lead to a closure letter, a citation for a technical violation, or a referral to the Attorney General or the District Attorney’s office for disciplinary or criminal actions.
If the Board determines that a formal investigation is warranted, then the matter will be referred to the Division of Investigations (DOI). The DOI will conduct an investigation, typically involving contacting a licensee for an interview or requesting documentation. If you are contacted by a Board investigator, you should not talk to them or sign any paperwork until you have talked to a lawyer.
The DOI will prepare an investigative report for the Board. If necessary, the Board will consult with expert witnesses. If the allegations are sustained, then the case may be referred to the Attorney General for the filing of a formal Accusation. At this point, the case will either be resolved via a stipulated settlement or will go to a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
The potential consequences that can be imposed by the Board include punishments for both major and minor violations.
In imposing discipline, the Board will consider multiple factors, including the nature and severity of the offense, the actual or potential harm to others, any prior disciplinary record, evidence of rehabilitation or mitigation, and whether the licensee cooperated with the Board’s investigation. Penalties may include license revocation, suspension (up to 1 year), a stayed revocation, a stayed suspension, and/or probation.
The potential consequences for a violation of the BPC or another law are incredibly serious. If you are under investigation by the Board of Occupational Therapy, it is imperative that you reach out to a California healthcare license defense attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can protect your rights and fight for you throughout the process.
It is understandable to be overwhelmed and scared when you learn that you are under investigation by your licensing board. You may even be tempted to ignore it, and hope that it goes away. Unfortunately, ignoring a Board investigation – including any requests for paperwork or an interview – can often have dire consequences for your license.
A California occupational therapy license defense lawyer can develop a proactive strategy to address whatever allegations have been made against you. In the early stages, they can counsel you on how to respond to the Board’s investigators. They can begin their own investigation, and gather documents to support your defense.
In some cases, your attorney may be able to convince the Board and its investigators that no violation has occurred and that the complaint should be closed. In others, your lawyer may be able to present evidence to show that the only violation that occurred was technical, and only a citation should be issued.
If the matter is referred to the Office of the Attorney General and a formal Accusation is filed, they will continue to reach out to the Board in an attempt to negotiate a stipulated settlement. This is often the best resolution, particularly when there is a possibility of serious consequences like a revocation or suspension.
In cases where a settlement cannot be achieved, your lawyer will represent you in a hearing. Keeping in mind the factors that the Board considers when imposing discipline, they will present a factual defense to the allegations, which may include testimony from your own expert witnesses. They will also put together evidence of rehabilitation, mitigating factors, and other information to convince the Board that if discipline is imposed, it should be on the lower end of the disciplinary spectrum.
When your license and your ability to work as an occupational therapist are on the line, you can’t take any chances. A compassionate California healthcare license defense attorney will work hard to advocate for you and to protect your interests.
Getting a letter or a call from the Board of Occupational Therapy about a potential violation can be stressful. In this situation, the best thing that you can do is to reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can help you achieve the best possible resolution, whether that means closing the complaint, a citation, or a lower level of discipline such as probation.
The Law Offices of Nicole Irmer is dedicated to providing the highest quality legal representation to healthcare professionals throughout California. If you are an occupational therapist who is dealing with disciplinary issues from CBOT, we will fight for you. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a California occupational therapy license defense attorney, call us at 619-237-6130 or fill out our online contact form.