The Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) has the duty to investigate a paramedic's off-duty and on-duty activities in California. EMSA is also charged with implementing, planning, leading, coordinating, and developing nationwide EMS systems. EMSA also denies or grants you a license based on your criminal record. The EMSA derives its powers from the California Health and Safety Code Section 1798.200 (HSC). The Enforcement Unit in the EMSA has an obligation to investigate complaints leveled against licensed and unlicensed paramedics who violate CHSC 1798.200, Division 2.5, Emergency Medical Services. If you receive a letter from EMSA with an Accusation and Statement of issues, you should consult a competent license-defense attorney to mitigate the outcome and safeguard your license.
Protecting Your EMT/Paramedic License
Often, people fail to understand or appreciate the daily heroic duties that EMTs/paramedics carry out. As a result, EMTs/paramedics often face criminal charges, lawsuits, and loss of their licenses. You could quickly lose your EMT/paramedic license based on avoidable misunderstandings. There is also confusion in the public mind. Most individuals fail to differentiate between the roles of paramedics and EMTs. This misunderstanding often causes claims of inaction against the EMTs/paramedics, yet they do their work as required.
You could find yourself in a dilemma as an emergency medical technician (EMT) if you face a license suspension or revocation. The Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) or The County Agency could call you when you least expect and inform you that you are being investigated. You could face a denial, suspension, or revocation of an EMT/paramedic license for different reasons. Once you realize you are being investigated, do not wait until your paramedic license or EMT certificate is suspended. Instead, contact an attorney right away.
Defending Your License
You must have worked extremely hard to earn your EMT/paramedic license. You should never allow your license to be suspended or revoked without a fight. You should seek a qualified and experienced professional license-defense attorney immediately if you receive a letter from EMS with an Accusation and Statement of issues. The attorney will take you through several actions that can restore your EMT/paramedic license. Your attorney will also assist you in understanding criminal complaints and professional license claims against you.
Only a competent attorney understands the nuances of this complex practice area. Your attorney will work to prevent and minimize the negative repercussions on your professional reputation and your EMT license. EMT and Paramedic license defense attorneys also understand and respect the critical role that EMTs play. An attorney will not judge you for an addiction you could be struggling with or for a mistake you have committed. Instead, he/she will work with you and assist you in resuming your noble role of serving your society responsibly.
The paramedic program equips you with the skills you use daily. The National Registry and state licensing agencies demand that you complete a paramedic program. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredits the license two years after your application. You could complete the program through a third party or your state. This course furthers your EMT education and teaches you to perform advanced emergency medical care on your patients.
Many paramedic certifications demand that you complete a criminal background check. For example, if you are arrested for a felony, the certification board could request proof of civil rights restoration, reference letters, court documents, and documentation of the incident. In addition, the boards in some states could demand your fingerprints to carry out background checks. Some states also require you to complete routine drug screenings.
Becoming An EMT Or Paramedic In California
Generally, becoming an Emergency Medical Technician or paramedic in California is a rigorous process. You must undergo intense education, mental alertness, physical fitness, and hands-on training, among other necessary qualifications. You must also go through the expensive, tedious, and complex process of acquiring an EMT license.
A medical emergency can arise when least expected. In this case, the paramedics and EMTs are often the first to respond, particularly at the scenes of accidents where the lives of victims are at risk. The EMTs’ primary role is to help paramedics and doctors. However, the EMTs are also restricted in the kinds of duties they should perform. Often, the EMTs focus on the following:
- Reporting their actions and assessments to the hospital workers
- Providing immediate life support
- Transporting victims to Emergency Room
- Taking vital signs
- Interviewing the victims
Every administration of a medical procedure or decision an EMT makes binds them legally and ethically to the highest standards. Even in complex emergencies, you must examine the most chaotic cases and make the best possible decisions for other people's lives. In addition, you must keep up with the recent statutes that affect your role, medicines, and changes in medical procedures. Some violations could cause EMSA or your local EMS to take disciplinary action against you.
Circumstances That Could Lead To Revocation Or Suspension Of Your EMT/Paramedic License
Violations of EMSA policies and criminal charges are typical circumstances where you can face allegations from licensing authorities. A threat to your paramedic license or EMT certificate from the Emergency Medical Services authorities involves a threat to your career, income, and possibly your reputation. Generally, you could violate HSC 1798.200 in the following ways:
- Unprofessional behavior is exhibited in several ways. First, by failing to uphold the confidentiality of the patient's medical information, except as disclosure is needed or allowed by law sections 56 to 56.6.
- Commit any sexually related crimes specified under section 290 of the Penal Code.
- Physical abuse or mistreating any patient involves using force above what a reasonable person trained would use if faced with a similar situation.
- Demonstration of irrational conduct.
- Acting despite the occurrence of a physical disability that a reasonable person would have believed that their ability to perform their duties as normally expected was impaired.
- Functioning outside the supervision of medical control in the field care system operating at the local level, except as authorized by any other certification or license.
- Excessive use of or the misuse of narcotics, dangerous drugs or controlled substances, and alcoholic beverages.
- Attempting to violate or violating any state or federal law that regulates narcotics, controlled substances, or dangerous drugs.
- Attempting to violate, violating directly, or indirectly any regulations adopted by the authority pertaining to pre-hospital personnel. Also, abetting, assisting in abetting, or conspiring to break any rules adopted by the authority relating to pre-hospital personnel.
- Conviction of any offense which is substantially related to the duties, qualifications, and functions of pre-hospital personnel.
- Committing any fraudulent, dishonest, or corrupt act that is substantially related to the duties, qualifications, and functions of pre-hospital personnel.
- Repeated negligent acts.
- Gross negligence.
- Fraud in the procurement of any license or certificate under this law.
Filing Complaints Against An EMT/Paramedic
If a patient files complaints against you, EMSA will take action based on the information the patient provides. The complaints are often valid if the complainant has first-hand or verifiable information. Therefore, the patient must provide information, including the dates and times you committed the offense.
When a patient files complaints against you, EMSA could place your EMT license on probation. Typically, the role of the probation program is to monitor you and ensure that you follow the provisions of the probation orders. The probation also aims at achieving public protection. You must submit a quarterly report to the licensing authority if your license is on probation. If you violate the probation order, EMSA could revoke or suspend your license.
Temporary Suspension Of Your EMT/Paramedic License
The director of EMSA could also suspend your license before scheduling a hearing of your case. There are also specific grounds that would make the medical director or a local EMS agency suspend your license. The reasons for a temporary suspension could include the following:
- If you pose an imminent risk to public safety and health if you continue to practice as a paramedic
- If the director discovers that you are engaging or you have engaged in certain acts or omissions that qualify as valid grounds for revocation
According to Section 1798.202(c), EMS can temporarily file accusations against you and suspend your EMT/Paramedic license. They will also notify your employer and LEMSA about your temporary license suspension.
If you file a notice of defense according to Section 1798.202(d), a hearing will be held within 30 days. The EMS director will have 15 days maximum to make the final decision when the administrative law judge issues the proposed decision.
The EMSA ‘’Recommended Guidelines’’
The administrative law judge (ALJ) presiding over your administrative hearing often uses the EMSA published standard guide. It is referred to as Recommended Guidelines for Disciplinary Orders and Conditions of probation. The guidebook highlights different crimes under California Health and Safety Code Section 1798.200 and other related laws, which can lead to disciplinary action. The guidebook also highlights recommended punishment for each offense.
However, the administrative law judge can adopt mitigating proof in your favor and drop the ''standard'' recommendations to allow an amenable settlement. The guidelines are necessary since they inform you of common disciplinary actions. The EMSA guidelines instruct the ALJ to consider the following factors:
- Whether your employer has already imposed disciplinary measures on you — If you are already under disciplinary action, this discipline will be credited and reduce the EMSA discipline to a degree.
- In substance abuse cases, whether you have gone through rehab
- Any aggravating or mitigating evidence
- Whether you had a criminal record when you committed the crime and whether the court-imposed probation terms were adhered to
- Whether there are previous violations and warnings or multiple current violations
- The potential harm that could have occurred
- Whether any actual harm resulting from the violation
- The nature or severity of the accusation
Possible Disciplinary Actions At The Hearing
EMSA can impose several disciplinary actions against your EMT license during the administrative hearing. In some situations, EMSA could drop the allegations against you before the lawsuit proceeds to the administrative hearing. Some of the potential disciplinary actions you could face include:
- Approved drug or alcohol program
A fine and a citation are the less severe form of disciplinary action you could face. The fine you could face ranges from $250 to $2500 based on the nature of the violation and the details of your case. You will be required to pay the fine within two months of receiving a notice from EMSA concerning the penalty. However, if your attorney provides evidence of your financial hardship, he/she can negotiate for a grace period of one year to pay the fine.
EMSA will post any citation imposed against you on their website, and potential employers could easily access it. Therefore, it is essential that you contest a citation or a fine, even if it is the least severe punishment.
Additionally, EMSA could also put your license on probation. In this case, your profession will be hanging on how well you adhere to the terms of probation. Your attorney could negotiate a reduction of the probation period or favorable probation terms. If the allegation against you is associated with drugs, you must attend an approved drug or alcohol program.
The suspension or revocation of your EMT license is the most severe disciplinary action you could face. In this case, your attorney can negotiate a reduced suspension period. Your attorney can also guide you through the process of your license reinstatement.
When LEMSA Suspends Your EMT/Paramedic License
According to California Health and Safety Code Section 1798.202b, LEMSA can suspend your EMT license. This law demands that LEMSA submit all the necessary documentation to the EMS Authority in three days. LEMSA can forward the documentation via mail. The director of the EMS Authority will have up to two days after receiving the evidence to determine if the temporary suspension of your license should continue. The EMS Authority will have 15 days to file a temporary suspension order once the director approves the continuation of the suspension.
The EMS Authority will also file allegations against you within 15 days. However, if you file a defense notice, Section 1798.202d requires that the hearing must be scheduled within 30 days from the date you filed a defense notice. Therefore, the EMS Authority will have up to 15 days to make the final judgment once they receive the proposed decision from the administrative law judge.
Petitioning To Have Your License Reinstated
You could file a petition to reinstate your EMT/paramedic license if it is suspended, revoked, or placed on probation. You should file a petition after one year from the date of denial of a similar petition or the effective time of the decision. However, EMSA does not handle the complaint involving ambulatory billing.
Disciplinary Action Or EMSA Investigation Is Not The End Of Your Career
Many EMTs/paramedics have faced accusations in California in recent years. Most allegations arise from the requirements that every EMT/paramedic is subject to DOJ and FBI background checks. The technician’s future arrests are forwarded to the EMS agency immediately. Often, background checks increase license revocation risks and make it hard for EMTs' license renewals. Most license-related complaints filed against EMTs often arise from criminal convictions or allegations. Other claims arise from alleged violations like drug or alcohol abuse, fraudulently obtaining a license, and engaging in acts outside EMT/paramedic areas.
You could feel or assume there is no hope in the face of formal allegations and complaints. You could feel it is better to quit your career than protect your EMT/paramedic license. Most EMTs/paramedics quit their careers, particularly if arrested for a DUI or other criminal offense. However, battling with EMSA and EMS does not mean an end to your career. The EMS investigations cannot lead to any disciplinary action. You only need to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney will present mitigating factors during the hearing and negotiate for a favorable plea.
License Defense Attorneys
A licensed defense attorney defends your professional occupational license so that you can have the right to work. When a governmental regulatory board takes disciplinary action against people accused of unprofessional, unethical, or illegal conduct, license defense attorneys represent licensees. They also resolve other issues concerning occupational licenses.
These attorneys' primary responsibilities are as follows:
- Reinstatement Petitions — They offer legal assistance to former professionals whose licenses have been revoked or suspended so that they can return to work in their industry
- Discipline Defense — They represent licensed professionals facing disciplinary action after being accused of unethical behavior, workplace misconduct, or crimes.
- Application Appeals — They file formal appeals on behalf of professionals whose license application was denied or who have had a "Statement of Issues" against them.
Find License Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
If you face potential loss or suspension of your EMT or paramedic license, you need to consult a skilled attorney to resolve any accusations against you. The career you have built for many years could crumble if your license is suspended or revoked. Our attorneys are entirely devoted to protecting our client's reputation, practice, license, and rights at the Legal Guardian. We will guide you through various actions you should take to restore your EMT or paramedic license. For reliable legal representation in Long Beach, CA, contact us at 866-448-6811 and speak to one of our licensed defense attorneys.