To become a professional emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic in California, you must undergo training. For one, you must be mentally alert, physically fit, and you should have received the education and hands-on training. Also, there is the expensive, complex, and tedious process that you must undergo to obtain the EMT or paramedic professional license.

Unfortunately, you can lose your license more quickly than you acquired it. Several violations can result in disciplinary actions, including license suspension/revocation. Fortunately for you, it’s not final that you will lose your license if you’re facing allegations of misconduct. The law allows you to defend yourself. This is where you will need a license defense attorney to fight for you.

A lawyer who understands the laws governing the EMTs and paramedics can help you maneuver the administrative disciplinary process. At The Legal Guardian, we have competent and experienced lawyers. If you are in Long Beach, CA, and accused of misconduct, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will fight to prevent or minimize any adverse effect on your license and professional reputation.

Standards of Care for Paramedics and EMTs

The paramedic occupation comes with its challenges since everyone who works in this demanding profession is morally, ethically, and legally liable for every drug that’s administered. This is an appropriate algorithm for every unique situation or compliance with treatment protocols. You must carry out your duties within a specific extent of your practice and comply with the standard of care. You should also identify & document the effects of the administered drugs and keep up to date with contraindications, trends, and changes in the use and administration of these medications.

Not only that, but you must also know, through observation and interviews, which medications are right for a particular patient based on the signs & symptoms. The intrusive techniques you apply have to become second nature to you, thereby leaving no uncertainty that the prescribed drug or treatment is being administered to every accident victim.

As a  paramedic or EMT, you should be capable of handling adverse and frequently dangerous situations, which include answering calls in areas known to be prone to fire breakouts. Emergency medical technicians are like guardians of the injured and sick. Your dedication to work with people has to be unconditional, accompanied by strong emotional stability, the ability to satisfy the intellectual and physical demands placed on you, and tolerance for substantial stress.

The nature of the duties you’re trained to carry out leaves your professional license that the Board of Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) issues you with an easy target for accusations and lawsuits, putting it at risk. If you’re in this situation or are finding it challenging to procure your license after seemingly following the appropriate procedure, an experienced license lawyer may help you.

At the Legal Guardian, we have professional license lawyers that are aggressive and competent advocates with several years of licensing and criminal law knowledge. We may be able to plan and execute a legal strategy that will help solve your problem after we have taken the time to comprehend the specific circumstances of your case.

EMTs and Paramedics Roles

Fire emergencies are unforeseeable, and in many of these emergencies, it is the paramedics and EMTs that will be the first to respond to the accident scene. Most times, people do not fully value the trying and heroic tasks that emergency professionals do from time to time. You’ll be unappreciated until something goes amiss. Then, you suddenly could be subject to lawsuits, criminal charges, or the revocation/suspension of your professional license.

All the decisions you make, every medical procedure or administration of drugs to patients, even in challenging situations, bind you ethically and legally to a higher standard of care. You’re expected to quickly evaluate hectic situations, take command as fast as possible, make the best possible decision for other people’s safety, and document your actions correctly. Additionally, you have to be up to date with the latest changes in medications, procedures, and statutes affecting your work.

As you do all these, you’re saving others, but your life is at risk. Yet, make even one oversight mistake, and your entire career might be threatened. Several people confuse the roles of paramedics and EMTs. EMTs are specially trained to assist doctors and paramedics. They have limits to the forms of services they’re qualified to give. Unfortunately, this usually results in allegations of inaction even if the Emergency Medical technician carried out all they had to and in a manner that they were trained.

Paramedics usually perform invasive treatment techniques, whereas EMTs focus a lot on interviewing victims. EMTs also take note of vital signs, provide quick life support, carry severely injured fire victims to the emergency room, and report their actions and assessments to the hospital so the doctors can pick up from where EMTs left. An EMT works as an adjunct to the paramedics.

At the Legal guardian, we respect the EMTs and paramedics who go out of their way to help fire victims. We won’t judge you for the mistakes you committed or even addictions you might have. We will help you fight to protect your license so you can keep on with your duties of responsibly serving the community.

Violations That Could Lead to a Disciplinary Action and Suspension of EMT and Paramedics License by EMSA

In recent years, we’ve seen many complaints brought against paramedics or EMTs. A few of these complaints arise from the latest requirements that the U.S Department of Justice and FBI should conduct a criminal background check on EMTs and paramedics and that any future arrests ought to be quickly made known to the Local Emergency Medical Service Agency (LEMSA).

Others also arise from the nature of the paramedic/EMT job. However, the rule of background checks usually makes it challenging for EMTs or paramedics to renew their licenses or places licenses at a higher risk of revocation. In fact, about two-thirds of complaints against EMTs/paramedics relate to criminal allegations/convictions.

Common violations, as provided under Health & Safety Code (HSC) 1798.200, which can see you face disciplinary actions include:

  • Gross negligence

  • Using fraudulent means to procure any license or certificate under this department

  • Recurrent negligent acts

  • The commission of any dishonest, corrupt, or fraudulent act that’s significantly related to the functions, duties, and qualifications of pre-hospital personnel

  • Incompetence

  • An attempt to violate or violating indirectly or directly, or aiding & abetting the attempt to violate or the violation of any provision under the laws governing EMTs and paramedics, or the guidelines adopted by the jurisdiction concerning pre-hospital personnel

  • An attempt to violate or violating any state or federal law or rule that regulates dangerous drugs, controlled substances, or narcotics

  • A show of irrational conduct or showing a physical disability to a level that a prudent and reasonable individual would have a reason to believe your ability to carry out the duties as normally expected could be impaired

  • Operating outside the medical control’s supervision in the field care system operating at the local level, except as authorized by any other certification or license

  • Unprofessional conduct demonstrated by any of these:

  • The physical abuse or mistreatment of a patient caused by excessive force compared to what a prudent and reasonable individual trained and acting in the same capacity while performing their duties would apply under the same circumstances

  • Failing to maintain the confidentiality of a patient’s info, except if the disclosure is required or permitted by law under Civil Code Section 56-56.6

  • Committing any form of a workplace sex crime

When a formal accusation or complaint about committing the above violations is made against you, you probably would think that there’s no hope and give up on your career. You won’t be alone to have these thoughts. Most EMT/paramedics think like you would when they’re arrested for drug abuse off-the-job or are subject to an administrative hearing and possible license suspension/revocation for any other charge.

However, the truth is that being in trouble with EMSA doesn’t have to be an end to your career. For one, investigations might not result in any disciplinary action being taken against you at all. And an experienced license defense lawyer can present various mitigating factors that favor your case during the hearing, which will help him/her obtain a favorable outcome.

Procedure for Immediate Suspension

According to HSC 1798.202(a), the EMSA director or the LEMSA medical director can temporarily suspend your license before a hearing after establishing that:

  • You have participated in omissions or acts that create grounds for suspension

  • You pose an impending threat to public safety and health if permitted to continue practicing as an EMT or paramedic

If LEMSA suspends your license temporarily, HSC 1798.202(b) provides that within three business days, LEMSA shall transfer all the relevant documentary proof to EMSA via overnight mail or facsimile. The EMSA director has only two days from the receipt of that evidence to establish whether or not the order to suspend the license temporary should continue.

In case the director establishes that the order stands, the EMSA has fifteen days from when they received the proof to serve a temporary suspension order and accusation against you as per HSC 1798.202(c). If you file a notice of defense, a hearing will be conducted within thirty days from the filing as provided under HSC 1798.202(d). The EMSA director has fifteen days after receiving the administrative laws judge’s (ALJ) proposed resolution to make the final decision. In case the EMSA suspends your license temporarily, your employer and the LEMSA will be notified.

The EMSA Guidelines for Disciplinary Orders & Probationary Conditions

EMSA has developed guidelines for disciplinary orders for paramedics and EMTs throughout the state. These guidelines aim to give an equitable and consistent discipline in situations that deal with the violations we have mentioned above. EMSA uses these guidelines as a standard for settling disciplinary issues when a license holder moves to resolve whatever accusations against them via a negotiated agreement. However, the settlement could be on the terms that the two parties see are appropriate as per the Administrative Procedure Act.

If you invoke your privilege to challenge the accusations against you via the Administrative Procedure Act, then the guidelines will guide the ALJ in making their recommendations to EMSA on what disciplinary action should be taken (if necessary). You will be able to represent your views throughout the investigations, accusation filing, settlement negotiations, and during the administrative hearing. The representation will be at your expense. These guidelines are critical since they will help you know the disciplinary actions to expect, but they’re only just guidelines.

Factors to Consider Before the Recommendation of Disciplinary Actions

As per the EMSA guidelines for disciplinary orders, the ALJ should consider the following factors when deciding on the appropriate disciplinary action against you:

  • Severity and nature of the offense/action under consideration

  • The potential or actual danger to the public

  • Potential or actual harm to the patients

  • Past disciplinary record

  • Previous on-record warnings or past remediation

  • Several current violations

  • Mitigating evidence

  • Aggravating factors

  • Proof of rehabilitation

  • Any discipline your employer imposed for committing the offense in question

  • General criminal record

  • If there has been a criminal conviction before, adherence to terms and conditions your sentence/probation

  • The period that has passed since the crime or act took place

  • If applicable, proof of record expungement

The EMSA Disciplinary Actions

HSC 1798.200 outlines the violations for which EMSA can take disciplinary actions against you. However, when bringing an accusation against you, the Emergency Medical Services Authority may also state additional regulations and laws that provide a basis for discipline.

The disciplinary guidelines give progressive discipline, except if the facts of a specific case justify more substantial disciplinary measures. Fines are deemed the least harmful form of discipline that the authority can impose, probation is the second, followed by suspension, and then revocation comes last.

When determining the correct disciplinary action, the ALJ or EMSA gives credit for the discipline your employer imposed on you and also any immediate license suspension that the LEMSA imposed for the offense in question.

The disciplinary action that the ALJ recommends should be imposed when there are no mitigating or aggravating factors. The ALJ may recommend any disciplinary measure between the maximum discipline and minimum discipline for your crime. When he/she recommends any discipline above the maximum or one that’s lower than the minimum, an explanation will be given as to why your offense warrants that consideration. The EMSA director has the final say on what disciplinary action should be imposed.

The law permits the Emergency Medical Services Authority to impose a maximum fine of $2500 per violation as long as the offense in question didn’t result in any harm to the patient. You may not be subject to a fine if you’ve previously faced disciplinary action by the EMSA for other act/acts you committed within the preceding five years.

A fine won’t also be imposed if you have received a license suspension for your actions but could be imposed jointly with probation except if the probationary conditions require your personal time, clinical observation, training expense, or corrective instructions.

Mitigating Factors

As indicated before, you are allowed to submit mitigating evidence during the administrative hearing. This same chance is provided during the settlement process. These documents are examples of the appropriate proof you may present to demonstrate your competency and rehabilitative efforts:

  • Written reports from people in authoritative positions who have on-the-job knowledge of your competence. Every report has to have the capacity in which and the period you have worked together with the person.

  • Counselors’ letters concerning your participation in recovery or rehabilitation programs, where appropriate. The letter should describe the kind of program it was and the number of classes you have attended.

  • Letters describing your contribution to support groups

  • Laboratory drug screen reports or analyses, where applicable

  • Performance evaluations from your employer

  • Physical assessment or examination from a licensed doctor

Note that all these documents should be dated.

Probationary Conditions

It’s EMSA’s responsibility to monitor paramedics and EMTs that are placed on probation. People facing probation discipline have to comply with probationary terms & conditions. A few of these terms include:

  • Personal appearances: You have to appear personally for meetings, interviews, and evaluations of your adherence to the probationary terms & conditions as EMSA directs. Note that you will be accountable for all the costs related to this condition.

  • Quarterly reports requirements: As you serve your probation, you will be required to present quarterly reports, which shall cover your compliance with all your probationary conditions

  • Notice of Termination: You will be required to notify EMSA within 72 hours after termination with your pre-hospital healthcare employer. You have to provide a detailed and full explanation of why you have been terminated.

Find a Paramedic and EMT License Defense Lawyer Near Me

At The Legal Guardian, we have represented many paramedics and EMTs in Long Beach having trouble with the EMSA licensing board. Defending against professional licenses requires an in-depth understanding of the California statutes and how the EMSA disciplinary system works. You can count on us since we are conversant with the laws and professional license guidelines provided by EMSA. We are also familiar with the effective approaches used to solve cases and will fight to obtain the least severe disciplinary measure. If you’re facing potential suspension or loss of your paramedic or EMT license, call us at 888-293-0396, and let us help you resolve your case.