Choosing a medical field career often requires extreme dedication and hard work, especially if you want to become a paramedic. Moreover, you will have to undergo long hours in classes and training before becoming certified for a paramedic license. Subsequently, the journey to attaining your practicing license is tasking, meaning that its attainment will be a proud achievement. Additionally, you will only get to practice as a paramedic after obtaining the permit. Hence, it serves a very significant role in your career by enabling you to work.
Following your license's importances, you must learn of different scenarios that could lead you to lose the license and how to avoid them. You also need to understand an attorney's role in helping you defend your practicing license after receiving a disciplinary notice from the relevant licensing board. At The Legal Guardian, you will receive license defense services from our highly trained and well-experienced lawyers. Our team has handled numerous license defense hearings over the years, helping out many clients in Long Beach, California. Moreover, our specialization in handling healthcare professional license cases has provided valuable skills and in-depth knowledge to promote your needs' best possible attorney services.
The Importance of Paramedics in the Healthcare Practice
Doubtless, you, as a paramedic, have a wide range of duties to ensure that all patients receive quality healthcare services. Mostly, a paramedic has to handle medical emergencies by arriving at a patient's location and stabilizing him/her if the body is in a state of shock or extreme trauma. In such situations, events are highly unpredictable and require you to remain focused on the primary goal, providing essential medical response services to the patient.
Therefore, paramedics often face high-pressure situations that still demand high accuracy and competency levels when issuing treatment. On top of this, a paramedic's actions could easily attract legal consequences, even where he/she has done all that is possible in the circumstances. Hence, you are bound to face extreme scrutiny for minor slip-ups, despite providing the best skills to each of your patients.
In California, the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) receives complaints from affected patients or paramedic employers for such slip-ups and other unprofessional conduct. Through the authority, all accusations undergo in-depth scrutiny to assess the validity of allegations made against you. Afterward, the EMSA will determine whether to push your matter for an administrative disciplinary hearing or issue minor sanctions.
After receiving a notice of several accusations made against your professional conduct as a paramedic, it is easy for you to become stressed and worried about the future of your career. Despite this, we encourage you to reach out to a trusted professional license attorney who can guide you through the possible options to explore for your matter.
With the right license attorney by your side, you can request extension periods from the Emergency Medical Services Authority to let you prepare adequately for a formal disciplinary hearing. Moreover, your lawyer should gather enough information to help you defend your license once the matter proceeds to the hearing, for a fair chance at fighting to protect your professional license. It also allows your lawyer to engage with the disciplinary board or the administrative law judge handling your matter to get you the best terms for the corrective action decided upon you.
Activities that Attract Disciplinary Action for Licensed Paramedics
Before your matter proceeds to the disciplinary earnings, you will receive a formal written notice informing you of the same accusations you face. In the healthcare profession, you are expected to uphold high standards of care and skill when conducting your duties. Thus, the following are some of the actions that often attract disciplinary hearings that threaten your professional license:
Abusing Drugs or Alcohol While at Work
Showing up for work under the influence of alcohol or other mind-altering drugs is considered a severe offense, mainly because of the danger it exposes patients to. Usually, your brain functioning becomes impaired after consuming even small quantities of such drugs, leading to impaired decision-making abilities. Consequently, you may end up giving your assistants the wrong directives for a patient's treatment, meaning that you could expose the patient to medical complications.
Alternatively, abusing drugs or alcohol at work may lead to subsequent arrests and convictions, primarily if you handled a vehicle. Here, you are likely to face a DUI arrest that will lead to a criminal conviction and registration of the offense in your criminal record. With such careless behavior exhibited at work, you may also lose your job quickly if you were working for a hospital or medical clinic, on top of jeopardizing your professional license.
In other instances, abusing drugs at work may not lead to severe injuries or harm to patients. However, if the patient becomes reasonably apprehensive or worried about his/her safety while under your care, the accusation will still be valid when presented to the EMSA. The reasoning behind the admission of cases even where no patient was hurt is that you will have still compromised on your professional obligations by working under the influence. Additionally, even if you do not harm any patients, the disciplinary board is likely to view you as a safety hazard to your colleagues.
Exhibiting Incompetence in Performing Duties
As mentioned, you, as a paramedic, should have undergone intense and specialized training to prepare you for the demanding medical tasks in the field of work. Some of the training you receive will include educating you on handling unforeseen emergencies that may require you to perform invasive surgeries, among other drastic measures.
Therefore, if you cannot handle several of the tasks frequently issued to paramedics, a patient or any other third party with interest may report you to the Emergency Medical Services Authority and have you at risk of losing your license. Additionally, incompetence may also become evident in any bad decision-making habits exposed to patients and incapability to remember essential information relevant to treatment.
However, most patient or third party onlookers fail to realize the intensity of your workspace, mainly because of the high-risk medical emergencies you respond to in a day. Your position may also redirect people's attention from your primary identity as a human being, which means you are subject to making mistakes every once in a while. Regardless of this, you may find yourself facing accusations of incompetence because of a one-time oversight.
Suppose you find yourself dealing with an accusation on incompetence. In that case, we recommend working closely with your license defense lawyer, who will consolidate all relevant sources of information on your continuous delivery of high-standard services. With persuasive defenses, coupled with good sources of evidence, you can successfully convince the disciplinary board or administrative law judge presiding over your case to allow you to retain your license.
Taking on Actions Beyond Your Abilities or Without Authorization
Furthermore, paramedics should work under strict guidelines that restrict their duties to a specific level. For example, a paramedic should not perform brain surgery on a patient as he/she has not specialized in the practice. Instead, he/she should stabilize the patient who faced severe brain trauma before a neurosurgeon takes on the subsequent operation.
As a result, if you are guilty of conducting activities beyond your assigned set of responsibilities, you will be answerable before the disciplinary board or presiding administrative law judge. It is also essential for you to note that in most cases, it is irrelevant that you undertook the unauthorized actions with a positive motive in mind, as long as you broke specific rules or restrictions.
Similarly, you may also have saved a patient from adverse medical complications by taking on actions beyond your expertise level. Nevertheless, the EMSA will have to assess your case and determine whether the risk was worth the outcome. Despite the scrutiny, your license attorney may rely on your case's positive outcome that led to saving a patient. If he/she presents a persuasive case, you may retain your license with minor disciplinary actions taken to prevent a recurrence of the behavior.
Abusing or Mistreating Patients
Occasionally, patients lose lives from mistreatment or abuse from the medical professionals who should provide care for them. If your case facts point out your actions in mistreating a patient, you risk losing your license or having it limited for a significant period.
Most mistreatment cases arise from discrimination based on a patient's age, ethnicity, or financial background. For example, you will find that patients with an established financially stable environment may receive medical services more promptly than patients from economically unstable backgrounds. Also, the standard of services issued to the two parties may vary significantly based on class-based discrimination.
Consequently, if a patient with a right to receive quality professional medical attention dies or suffers from severe complications because of mistreatment or abuse, you and other involved paramedics will be subject to a disciplinary hearing. During the hearing sessions, you can raise any concerns you have about the accusations, especially if you genuinely believe they are false.
However, it is beneficial to remember that the disciplinary board world for the aggrieved patient's benefit, meaning that you will have to provide sufficient proof to discredit the patient's accusations. Therefore, you need to engage your lawyer in advance to prepare for the collection and presentation of evidence.
Engaging in Gross Negligence at Work
Like in cases dealing with incompetence, the EMSA considers exhibiting gross negligence while performing your duties a severe accusation, leading to more severe outcomes if found guilty. Usually, any trained professional should work under the duty of care owed to all patients. In this case, the primary responsibility of care is to ensure that your patients receive quality medical services that stabilize them well enough to undergo further procedures.
Thus, when you breach the responsibility of extreme care you owed to the aggrieved patient, the affected person is entitled to present a formal complaint to the EMSA. For example, leaving a patient unattended when he/she is in critical condition may qualify as gross negligence, as it portrays extreme carelessness in performing your duties.
Additional examples of gross negligence include using unsterilized or previously used apparatus on a patient, exposing him/her to disease-causing microbes or viruses associated with unclean needles or invasive tools. Here, most attention goes to the level of risk you exposed the patient to, and whether he/she suffered any harm.
The other essential element for assessment in gross negligence accusations is whether your actions were the direct cause of the patient's aggrievement, if any. When deliberating on causation, the board will analyze the complainant's allegations and check directly to any actions you undertook. Moreover, your lawyer can also present defenses to counter the accuser's claims to discredit the record of events stipulated in the formal accusations.
Accusations of Sexual Misconduct
Additionally, facing sexual misconduct allegations may also jeopardize your license retention, mainly if the matter proceeds to a formal disciplinary meeting or an administrative hearing. Since sexual harassment allegations attract severe disciplinary action upon the conclusion of your hearing, it is vital to reach out to your license defense lawyer and promptly begin to work on possible defense strategies for the case.
Moreover, allegations of sexual harassment could taint your image beyond your professional scope, mainly because your reasons for disciplinary action may quickly spread among your peers and loved ones. Subsequently, even potential employers may become aware of your alleged misconduct, meaning that you could have a more challenging time seeking reemployment.
Sexual misconduct allegations may arise from co-workers and patients alike, based on any inappropriate engagements you exhibit. Moreover, the accusations could snowball when other alleged victims come out and present their complaints to EMSA or any appointed disciplinary board. Hence, you want to act efficiently by asking your lawyer to provide reliable solutions for your case, primarily if you face false accusations or exaggerated claims.
Undermining a Patient's Data Confidentiality
Lastly, revealing a patient's private information to third parties is also a severe offense that undermines your professional duties as a licensed paramedic. In the medical field, all medical professionals who interact with patients are obligated not to reveal their patients' medical records to unauthorized third parties. Doing so could expose the patient in question to undue scrutiny, especially if he/she suffers from a unique medical condition.
Additionally, you are also prohibited from giving a patient's physical location in the hospital to unidentified visitors. For example, when a patient is undergoing recovery in a specific ward, you should not give the unknown visitor access to the ward. He/she may have ulterior motives to harm or kidnap the patient, among other atrocities.
The prohibitive measures also extend to discussing a patient's state or condition to others, including your family members. Hence, the accusation could still be valid even if you disclosed the patient's information to your partner or other close loved ones, as it undermines your professional obligations.
Case Elements For the Disciplinary Board to Consider Before Issuing Disciplinary Action
When your case proceeds to a disciplinary or administrative hearing in court, the adjudicating parties will make several considerations to help them determine the best action to take against you. Most of the factors for consideration fall in line with the Emergency Medical Services Authority guidelines that stipulate different action courses for various scenarios. The main elements considered are:
- The Harm Exposed to the Aggrieved Patient
- Any Aggravating Factors to Your Case
- Previous Rehabilitative Engagements You Undertook
- Disciplinary Action Taken by Your Employer
- The Severity of the Aggrieved's Allegations
Possible Disciplinary Action Issued to Paramedics
Once the presiding adjudicators in your disciplinary hearing, consider all relevant factors along with your case facts, they will settle for any of the following disciplinary actions:
Receiving a probation order means that you will have to follow specific rules and guidelines for a particular period, or risk losing your license altogether. Hence, it is essential to follow all requirements set out by the administrative judge or disciplinary board members who handle your case to avoid further disciplinary action that yields more adverse effects for your license. After completing your probation period successfully, you can apply for the reinstatement of your claim free from the probationary terms.
Alternatively, the disciplinary board may settle on suspending your license for a specified period. During this time, you will be unable to work as a paramedic, and may therefore lose your means of income. Since your job's loss may lead to financial hardships, your lawyer can help you negotiate for license probation instead, letting you continue with work. If the board or judge agrees to the probationary terms, you will have to follow them for three to five years before you qualify for complete license reinstatement.
Citations and Fines
Citations and fines are the least punitive disciplinary actions issued on you, as they do not pose any immediate risk of losing your license. However, the punishment still brings about several disadvantageous elements. A citation is an entry made in publicly accessible databases like websites, whereby any interested member of the public can retrieve information on your professional misconduct.
Moreover, you will have to pay your fines on time or risk facing additional punitive measures. The fine amounts range between $250 to $2500, based on the type of misconduct allegations you face. Hence, the fines may become an additional financial burden, especially if you are a breadwinner for your family. Therefore, you need your lawyer to help negotiate for lower rates that make it manageable for you to make repayments on time.
Facing a revocation is the more severe type of punishment issued after a disciplinary hearing. While receiving a revocation notice is not common, you need to ensure that your attorney can present arguments that avert the possibility of revocation, to save you from losing your license altogether.
Find a License Defense Attorney Near Me
When your professional license is in jeopardy, you may face many hardships and stress as you figure out ways to salvage it. While most disciplinary hearings proceed without a lawyer present, you are always better off with an attorney representing you, as he/she is professionally trained to take on any challenging probes from the board or administrative judge. We at The Legal Guardian dedicate ourselves to providing exceptional license defense services to our Long Beach, California clients. With our help, you can fight for your paramedic license to secure your career and continue saving lives. Call us today at 888-293-0396.