Received an Accusation With Allegations of Substance Abuse Violations

| Posted in Licensing Defense on November 27, 2022

Being a healthcare professional is a rewarding career but also comes with its demands and stressors. The profession can require working long hours to help others in physical and emotional need, thereby sacrificing the healer’s personal and family life. This has never been more true than during the Coronavirus Pandemic. The pressure on the healthcare professional may be overwhelming and if not addressed constructively may lead to an accusation of use and abuse of drugs and alcohol, which in turn may have devastating consequences to the health care provider’s license or an aspiring licensee.

On July 1, 2015 Senate Bill 1441 was implemented to standardize the monitoring of Physicians and other Healing Arts Professionals impaired by drugs and/or alcohol. The new Regulations detail uniformed standards for monitoring, counseling, treating, and dealing with Health Care Professionals who are impaired by drugs and/or alcohol. Some Licensing Boards affected but the list is not limited to, include:

The New Regulations detail the responsibility of the Health Care Licensee and his/her worksite monitor, the frequency of random drug/alcohol screenings, criteria for Petitions for Reinstatement as well as several other topics. The new regulations allow for uniformity amongst Healing Arts Professionals, and can be found at: Senate Bill 1441.

Prior to Senate Bill 1441, individual licensing boards had more autonomy when determining how to monitor its Licensee, and thus the various Boards could discipline and monitor their Licensees, with the same underlying conduct, in vastly different ways. However, now, the Boards are bound by the new uniformed Regulations.

Potential Substance Use/Abuse Probationary Conditions

All Licensing Board’s have published Disciplinary Guidelines that outlines what probationary conditions are required/recommended when a professional has been deemed to violate the practice act, involving the use/abuse of drugs and/or alcohol. The Disciplinary Guidelines can be used as a roadmap to examine how one’s license may be impacted once the probationary period begins. Many of the Licensing Boards require the following conditions related to substance/alcohol use:
1. A forensic/mental health evaluation

  1. A physical evaluation
  2. Participation in a rehabilitation program
  3. Attendance at self-help meeting
  4. Participation in therapy
  5. Abstention from non-prescribed drugs and alcohol
  6. Frequent toxicology screenings

In addition to the terms outlined above, the individual Licensing Board may include additional terms that may have substantial consequences to one’s ability to practice. Specifically, the Board of Physical Therapy requires the PT to cease practice while being evaluated by the Board’s Rehabilitation Program (Maximus). The PT will need to demonstrate a period of sobriety (at least 30 days), before they are cleared to return to practice. This period of pseudo suspension for a busy PT (especially solo-practitioners) can result in significant collateral consequences if the PT has not arranged alternative care. 

Whether you are a professional facing discipline from your licensing board due to such issues or you are aspiring to hold a California license, substance abuse may significantly impact your professional license.   At the Law Office of Nicole Irmer we understand the emotional, physical, and legal issues of those licensees confronted with Substance Abuse.   Please contact us to discuss how your license may be impacted due to the new legislation.

See Also:

The Danger of Surrendering Your Professional License

Board of Pharmacy